District 203 needs a reallocation of funds to make lunch free and higher quality.
First of all, take a moment to think about the inefficiency of using taxpayer dollars to make a pizza that is then marked up and sold to students.
Another thing to consider, free lunch meant lines were much faster without students spilling a handful of nickels at the cashier. Now it takes five to ten minutes just to start eating. There is less time to socialize, especially now that three days of the week have shortened periods.
The prices set on lunches are not fair at the moment. The food is sub-par, and many options aren’t very accommodating for allergies, religious food exemptions and dietary choices. Milk comes with the combo, but if you can not have that then you’re stuck with a six ounce half-frozen apple juice, unless you want to pay for a sugar free peach passion fruit Vitamin Water.
The way I see it, school lunch is a fundraiser with gross food. It should be meant to nourish kids who are trying to get through school. Last year they had a sandwich bar open which allowed for students who do not eat meat to still have a good lunch and it was a healthier alternative to pizza or chicken sandwiches.
Illinois schools are no longer required to buy food from the lowest responsible bidder, so why not invest in higher quality nutrition for kids? Maybe there would not be extreme youth obesity in America if there was higher quality food in lunches that, for some kids, currently take four times the serving size.
Past all that, there is still a problem with making students prove they are poor to receive free or reduced lunch. Free lunch for everyone removes the obstacles that already financially challenged students have to face in order to eat.
Additionally, for over a year students in sixth period lunch lacked options. Short supply means that if you are assigned to a sixth hour lunch, you are often getting less options than the other two lunch periods.
The obvious question of where the money would come from is far more complicated though. This year the district spent $2,372,200 on new Chromebooks for highschools. Even the Esports club at Central received $85,000 in a grant for equipment. I feel that money would be much better suited for at least trying to not only remove a barrier from getting lunch to kids, but also improving the quality of life at Central.
The importance of not only nutrition during our day but also proper socialization far outweighs the importance of advancing our technology. Central should take a closer look at what really matters.