Free lunch should return at NKHS

Charles Wright, Staff Writer

Lunch is one of the most important parts of the day, as it provides energy and nutrients to you as you progress through the day. Lunch is just as important in school as it is outside of school, and nowadays it could be difficult for students to get what they need because of the cost. 

In school, all food costs a little bit, and if each day you get lunch, it really adds up over the course of the year. This is why some students don’t want themselves or their parents paying for lunch, and so they skip it. I believe that school lunch should be free for all students.

During the pandemic, lunch was free and there were clearly many benefits to student well-being. Free lunch would save students and parents money while also providing what is necessary for low-income students. According to the Mountain Echo (the official student news site of Altoona High School), “1.54 million students cannot financially afford a school lunch… Charging children to eat somewhere they are legally obligated to be at for the entire day, let alone the entire year, is exploitative… There is no good reason to restrict a basic human need because they are unable to pay.”

A free lunch would also provide incredible benefits for the students who couldn’t afford lunch or skipped it entirely. It would ensure that all students have access to nutritious food, which is essential for their physical health, mental health, and academic performance. The Food Research and Action Center says: “Receiving free or reduced-price school lunches reduces food insecurity, obesity rates, and poor health.”

In addition to those benefits, the school meal nutrition standards will give students a wide variety of food to select from, especially with fruits and vegetables. This would create a positive and healthy learning environment for all students, in which they would be able to get enough nutrients and energy to finish the day off strong.

Finally, free school lunch would also promote equity among students by ensuring that all students have access to the same nutritious food regardless of their financial situation. This could help to reduce the gap in achievement between low-income and high-income students, as well as reduce the stigma associated with being on free or reduced-price lunch programs. A study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2017 states that: “This study adds new knowledge in that students remembered 5 years later how it felt to be equal, something that was much clearer for them in retrospect. This highlights how students seemed to value social equality as an important aspect of free school meals.”

This study sheds light on the significance of social equality in the eyes of students, as they remembered the feeling of being equal even five years later. 

Providing free school lunches to students is a necessary step towards ensuring that students all have the opportunity to eat lunch, regardless of their financial status. This would also benefit student physical, mental, and educational health. This would help emphasize the importance of providing free school meals as a way to promote a sense of equality among students. 

Preparing free school meals is a moral obligation in order to create a positive and healthy learning environment for all students. The benefits of free lunch were seen briefly, and it should be continued. It is time for educators, parents, and policy makers to seriously consider this important step towards ensuring that all students have access to the nutrition they need to succeed.