Food for Thought

Karla Velez, Staff Writer

Lunch is seen as an important meal for schools as they try to obtain state and federal requirements in their meals for students’ every day. Only a selected number of students were able to sign up for an application to have free lunch for all the year through.

Now, many changes have started for students and their lunch time. In the passing year, it has been decided that there will be free lunch applications for everyone. Yet, Ridgeview is not the only school who has taken part in this new change. According to Jennifer Davis, Nutrition Services Director for Kern High School District, Independence High is also in this new program for lunch. With this, it is seen that more and more students have walked through the doors of the cafeteria and creating longer lines to get their meal.

“Yes, more students are partaking in the meal services that we are offering,” Davis added. “Ridgeview’s numbers are up from last year about 8,050 more lunches and 3,400 more breakfasts in the month of September alone.”
This increase is noted by students as they wait in line to get their meals. While free lunch applications could be seen as a positive change to the school, for some there are several negative effects to it when it comes to the increase of consumption.

“The lines are outside! That never used to happen,” said senior Eduardo Avila-Lopez. “There’s too many people. If there were less people, we have better food,” he added. Moreover, senior Angeline Hernandez also states, “I would say that more students are eating because the lunch is free now. I do see a huge difference from last year.”

With this, the aspect of having so many students in line for a meal gives another negative side to this change, for Avila-Lopez is the increased amount of food being thrown away. “Negative: more lunch is thrown away.”

This could be seen in the pressure put on the school to give all students an appropriate meal; making students take foods that may not be of great interest to them. Davis states, “The program is designed to give all students a nutritious meal whether they can afford it or not.”

Therefore, to whomever decides to take a meal from the cafeteria, will have to follow the federal requirements of what would be considered a healthy meal in the state of California.

But, the positive effects on this new change cannot be ignored for both students and the school. The lunch applications may be free for all students, yet there are still benefits for the school and its funds. According to Davis, “The new application still is required to be completed and processed, so that the school can still receive other funds based on the percentages. On October 29 Ridgeview’s percentage was 67.8% which was down from last year by -1.2%.”

Furthermore, the positive impact continues on to the students. For Avila-Lopez, the positive perspectives of free lunch is that, “Everybody gets to eat! My friend, he used to pay for lunch, so he didn’t eat, now he gets lunch every day.”

“I do like the idea of everyone getting free lunch because there are students out there who need it. It would be nice if lunch was free every year,” said Hernandez. “I think every student should be allowed to have free lunch.”

Luckily, this new change in lunch applications will be considered to continue onto the next school year.