Munching on lunch is costing a bunch

How pricey school lunches affect Park


Ari Lissaeur

Patra Bakalars and Coralee Arnolds pay for school lunch Sep. 29. In the 2022-2023 school year school lunch is no longer free.

Noah Leventhal

As we emerge from the pandemic, changes are being made everywhere. Mask restrictions have dropped, social distancing is no more and schedule changes are prevalent now more than ever. One of the more important changes for Park is charging money for school lunch again.

During the last two school years, Park has offered free lunch for everyone. Seconds and extra snacks would cost money, but the main meal was free. This policy has changed this year with the decision to charge for school lunches once more.

Junior Tommy Walsh said that the change may not have been communicated properly to students, leaving some confused about the matter. 

“I don’t think it was really well communicated to all the students, especially people that previously were paying for their lunch,” Walsh said.

Walsh also mentions the distaste among students for the change, despite its possible monetary necessity. He also brought up the low quality of lunches last year, saying they were bad and not enough. 

“I’m not thrilled about it,” Walsh said. “But if the school needs to do it, they might as well. By the end of last year, the school lunches were getting pretty bad quality and not really a lot of food.”

Sophomore Josh Fink said the change affected lots of students, especially those that were struggling last year. He mentioned the snack bar, where extra snacks and drinks are for sale, and how it might lose traction now that students have to spend money on lunch itself.

“A lot of people were struggling to afford lunch last year and weren’t really able to get many of the extra items because they needed to save money,” Fink said, “That affects them because the lunch prices have gotten pretty extreme to, like, three dollars.”

Fink continued to say the new lunch pricing could be tough for those who don’t have the funds to purchase lunch every day.

“It’s rough for some of the people that don’t have the necessary funds to, like, have lunch every day because some people can’t get a whole lunch,” Fink said.

However, Principal Paddock clarifies that this is not the school’s decision, but a federal one. She said signups for the free and reduced program are available, where you can apply for reduced lunch costs. 

“That’s really something the district or the schools don’t necessarily dictate, but it’s more of a federal program.” Paddock said. “Everybody is encouraged to fill up the free and reduced lunch application.”

You can find out more information about the free and reduced lunch program here.