No More Free Lunch

No More Free Lunch

Timothy Ayers, Writer

If you were at Bob Jones last year, you probably remember Free Lunches. Why do lunches cost money now? 

First off, there is a reason why lunches required payment prior to last year. On January 18, 2021, Aidan Sims, now graduated, wrote on Patriot Pages:  “Many of our students have decided to eat school lunch and/or breakfast because it’s free this school year. All lunches are free because the school system does not want to put excess strain on families who may have already experienced financial hardship this year because of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. As said by our principal Sylvia Lambert, “It is nice to know that all students can eat two meals at school at no cost to the student or the parent this school year.” You can check out that article by clicking HERE.  According to the article, free lunches were rolled out to help students cope with the financial pressures of the pandemic. Since COVID has become less of a financial strain this year, we returned to the regular lunch costs.

After interviewing the school’s CNP (lunch manager), I found out that the reason we don’t have free school lunches anymore is actually because of federal and state lawmakers. The program that was created last year ran out of money, and the lawmakers decided not to keep it going. Melinda Long, the school’s CNP Manager stated, “I feel like we should have free lunches all the time, but it’s not the school’s decision.”

So that answers why lunches cost money again, but how do students feel about this?

Many students have different opinions on the matter, but the majority of students all agree that free lunches were very important, as they provided relief for students in a household with low incomes.  Aubrianna Maxwell stated, “Parents shouldn’t have to worry if their child is going to have lunch the next day or if they are going to be able to pay for school lunches.” Another student wrote, “I’m a little frustrated. I don’t make that much at my job and one breakfast and lunch at school costs me almost an hour of my work day.”

Drake Lara also brought up a valuable point: “I think it should have stayed free. It seems like the quality of the lunches hasn’t changed, though the price has.”

Low-income families can still apply for free or reduced-cost programs. According to, these programs benefitted many students prior to the pandemic. “About 45% of children enrolled in Alabama public schools were eligible for free meals in 2019-20 under pre-pandemic eligibility guidelines. Another 5% of students were eligible for reduced-price meals.”

For everyone else, it’s $1.75 for breakfast and $3.00 for lunch.