The Absence of Free Lunch
“Grr…” Many students in traditional United States school systems hear rumbling coming from their stomachs in the middle of class. Since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced, U.S. government officials have decided that the need for free school lunch has expired. Free school lunch was available during the pandemic because many people were not being paid and had to stay at home. The government temporarily made school lunch free to help families who were already living in harsh conditions. Officials hoped that subtracting the cost of school lunch would help low income families.
According to California’s Department of Education, California is the only state in the US in which students are still given free lunch; however, they are only provided in the schools with high poverty rates. California governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a mandate pushing schools to apply for federal provision. This allows schools’ incomes to be evaluated and government officials can determine whether they qualify for free lunch or not. It is believed among many politicians that free school lunches are no longer needed because of the ending of the pandemic. According to some, most workers are able to be paid for working again and income is less of a concern.
Many students would argue that school lunches are still a problem even though the pandemic is nearly over. Some parents have naturally low wages and the pandemic did not affect them in any way. These parents could have a hard time financing school lunches into their budget because they are used to it being provided. Before the virus, school lunch was not free. Free school meals were only to help families who needed financial support during covid, not all families low income.
A survey was taken among students at BHS. According to the survey, most of the students going to Bonneville ate school lunch last year but do not this year because many can not afford to pay for the lunches. Although less than half of the students at BHS are affected, those who are must face harsh results from the loss of universal school lunch. According to a Bonneville student, their transition to buying lunch has not been easy, “In four days, I will not have any of the money that I saved for school lunch this summer left. It was supposed to last me for a lot longer than that. I will not be able to afford to eat.” This student is one of many at BHS who is suffering from this change. Many students are in distress and the government does not have unlimited funds to pay for students’ lunches. This is likely to be a long lasting conflict but hopefully the result will be full and content bellies.
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