Illustration by Laura Cai

Free lunch relieves financial pressures on families

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publicly announced that meals are available to all students this  school year. This benefits families that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, as it tackles food insecurities and energizes students at no cost. Part of the reason behind USDA’s decision was to respond to the effect of the pandemic on families’ food insecurity and alleviate hunger issues during pandemic. Approximately 42 million individuals in the U.S. experienced food insecurity due to COVID-19’s financial impact in 2021. 

Because so many families are struggling with job loss due to the pandemic, this mandate helps alleviate some pressure. Since families are still getting economically situated from the pandemic by returning to work, free lunch saves money. Parents are able to use that extra money for other more essential expenses, like mortgage or rent. Students can use that spare money for recreational purposes, such as school dances or football games.

Free lunch also provides more students with health benefits, which can lead to improved academic performance. With the pandemic, it is imperative that individuals consume well-balanced and nutritious meals to prevent getting sick and being more vulnerable to COVID-19. Maintaining adequate health can contribute to the slow spread of COVID-19 cases  If one suffers from other underlying illnesses, the risk of getting COVID-19 is higher. Having free lunch helps students concentrate, as it fills up their empty stomach. Fortunately, free lunch is given to every student this year regardless of one’s annual income.

Lastly, another benefit of free lunch is saving time. Many students are in a rush in the morning or simply do not have time to prepare lunch. Therefore, having access to free lunch conserves time. The time that would have been used to prepare lunch, can now be utilized for prolonged sleep or simply extra time to get ready. Making one’s own lunch at home can be time-consuming in the long-run, as at times, students may sleep late due to heavy load-work. 

Some would say that the aftermath of eating lunch does not give you energy, and instead makes you more exhausted. However, this could be from different factors, not particularly school lunch. For example, it could be the lack of sleep, heat, or inadequate hydration, which could be particular reasons for exhaustion. 

All in all, students should take advantage of the open breakfast and lunch bars on campus. To tackle the matter of lack of energy, students could utilize the water fountains and water dispensers. This would aid students into feeling hydrated from the heat and mitigate their exhaustion.

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