School Lunches Provide Good Option to Students


When school lunch is mentioned, many students cannot help but grimace. The bad odor, the abysmal taste and the seemingly endless long lines are enough to make many students decide to take the extra time to pack a lunch every day or skip the meal altogether.

This is not to mention that countless movies, TV shows and books portray school lunch in a negative light, arguing that it tastes bad and is unhealthy. So, if school lunch is really that bad, why do hundreds of RHS students buy school lunch every day?

The answer is: School lunch is not as bad as people say it is. In fact, school lunch as a whole is an amazing part of the public school system, though it is plagued by stigma and misconceptions.

School lunch offers a convenient and cheap meal for all students. It is difficult enough to have to wake up early in the morning and leave for school on time. The added pressure to then pack a healthy lunch just is not worth it for many students.

Sophomore Jackson Lunsford is one student who buys lunch everyday. He said he is fine with school lunch.

“I can afford it…it’s easier than making lunch,” Lunsford said.

School lunches and breakfasts also provide two daily meals to those students who cannot afford to have enough food at home.

According to the MCPS website, “Students may qualify for free or reduced price meals based on household size and income. They may also qualify if they are receiving Food Supplement Program or Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefits.”

In other words, school lunch helps fight hunger, a major problem in the US and the Montgomery County area.

A common misconception concerning school lunch is that it is unhealthy. Popular items include mozzarella sticks, pizza and chicken nuggets, foods that are not usually considered to be nutritious.

However, in MCPS, this is not the case.

“I have a lot of confidence over the fact that dietitians scrutinize over the menu,” RHS cafeteria manager Alexandra Phillips said. Phillips’ job includes working the cash registers during breakfast and lunch, counting inventories and filing paperwork.

According to the MCPS website, all school lunches meet nutritional standards set by the USDA. Since nutrition experts analyze every item on the menu, students can be ensured that school lunch is, in fact, healthy.

As for the long lunch lines, they always feel longer than they really are. The lunch period lasts for exactly 38 minutes. At most, the lunch lines last about 10 minutes, and maybe 15 minutes on rare occasions, which still leaves time to eat.

Many have wondered about the mysterious fourth lunch line that is closed during the year. There are four available lunch lines in the cafeteria, but the line on the far right is always closed down. This is because there is not enough staff to prepare, manage, clean and input data for four lines.

The reality is, running school meals takes a lot more than it seems. So, contrary to popular belief, it is actually more beneficial to keep this line closed.

“It’s a balance between service and convenience,” Phillips said.

While the taste of school lunch food may not satisfy all students, the program in and of itself is extremely beneficial and should be celebrated, not stigmatized.