Feed the kids for free

Feed the kids for free

Nikolai Gentes, Staff

Pembroke Academy recently made the decision to eliminate free school lunches. Free school lunches were created during the Covid-19 pandemic, but now the school district has decided to suspend  the program for the 2022 school year. This was the wrong decision. There are a number of reasons why free school lunch should be available at Pembroke Academy and all schools throughout the country. 

First, when free lunch is taken away, it disproportionately affects lower income families. Families earning lower wages may not have the resources to feed themselves at home. For many families, free school lunches are a safety net that guarantees their children will have at least one good meal a day. Now that the safety net is gone, families who are already struggling to feed themselves will now have a new expense to cover, and their kids will suffer. 

Secondly, studies have shown that there are a number of  benefits to free school lunches. Data gathered by The Food Research and Action Center found that free school lunch leads to a downturn in poor health amongst students. “Research shows that free or reduced-price school lunches reduces food insecurity, obesity rates, and poor health,” they wrote.

The benefits of free school lunches stretch beyond simply filling a child’s belly, however.

According to data collected by Syracuse University’s Maxwell School Center for Policy Research, academic performance also increases for students who eat a full lunch. “Results indicate that increases in school lunch participation improve academic performance for both poor and non-poor students; an additional lunch every two weeks increases test scores by roughly 0.08 standard deviations in math and 0.07 standard deviations in ELA,” the study stated.

Additionally, by providing a free school lunch, schools will incentivize children to eat healthier. Many students, if given the choice, will buy a bag of chips instead of an apple, but by making that apple not only free, but also included as part of a free lunch, more students would be inclined to accept the healthy choice.

Research has indeed shown that free school lunches will lead to healthier eating habits for students. If the goal of education is prepare students for the adult world, this seems like a reasonable place to start.