Counterpoint: Should all students receive free lunches regardless of income?

Kevin Taylor, Staff Editor

Recently, some schools and states have been advocating for free lunches to all students. This approach, however, is inherently awed for numerous reasons, branching from nutritional value of school lunches and the government’s economy. This is because a completely free lunch system is an inefficient use of taxpayer money. Those who can pay for their lunches should pay for it, and if a student, for any reason, cannot pay, then the government should help. This describes the system that students live in today. If it is completely necessary, a school will give free lunches to a student. However, the process of only giving some people free lunches is also a waste of money to schools, and making all lunches free will only exacerbate this problem. Another reason as to why
school lunches should not be free is the possibility of making healthier school lunches. Most, if not all, parents agree that school lunches are not as healthy as they should be.

“As it stands, school lunch is awful, so we should focus on improving its quality before we seek to distribute it more widely,” said sophomore Abraham Franchetti.

In order to increase the nutritional quality of school lunches, schools need an adequate amount of income to make these changes. Making school lunches free to all will only decrease a school’s possibilities in making healthier lunches for students. A change in quality for school lunches is extremely needed as well, as many students choose not to eat cafeteria food solely due to a negative perception of these meals. With kids choosing not to eat school lunches, schools continue to make much more food than eaten, leading to further losses of money.

“School lunches should not be free because we need the money gained from students buying food in order to maintain the quality and demand of the food. Students who need financial aid for the payment of school food are provided with reduced or even free meals,” said sophomore Edwin Mun.

Not paying for all school lunches also allows schools to put money into other programs and activities, benefitting the education of students. If students who can pay for lunches do pay for them, schools can focus on giving their students more opportunities. For
example, a school will not have to cut its art department’s programs, or they won’t be low on teachers and faculty. There are more useful places for schools to put their money than giving all kids free lunch, especially if the district can afford it.

“The school needs money to fund programs and classes, in addition to paying the salaries of our sta members. There are numerous other places where schools need to put in money,” said junior Isaac Goldstein.

A main argument for making school lunches free is that the current system is unfair to students of lower-income families. However, when a student is financially unable to pay for their lunch, they must be provided lunch. Although it may lower the stigma towards those who cannot afford school lunch, the disadvantages of a new system bring out-weighs this problem.

With free lunches for all, taxes will increase. “People will abuse school lunches if they are free to all,” said junior Jeremy Silberg.

Making lunch free will only prove to be hurtful to the school system itself. Although it may help destigmatize those with lower income, those who are unable to afford lunch still do receive discounts or free lunches anyway. A new system would decrease the time and money spent on benefitting the education of students grades K-12, and this is, along with a possibility of improving the
quality of school lunches, are necessary and important to the schooling of children. Overall, there are better ways to use school money and taxpayer dollars than creating free-for-all lunches.

“The schools need to profit,” said sophomore Ben Krefetz, emphasizing the need for paid lunches, rather than giving away food to people who can afford it regardless.

In essence, those who can pay for school lunches should pay, as it helps allow schools to better the quality of schools and the education within, which is the basis of current school systems throughout America.