CAMPUS: SCUSD provides all students with free lunch, causing longer cafeteria lines


Sarah Olson

The number of students who receive a school lunch has increased by more than 200 in comparison to previous years.

The lunch bell rings and SCHS’s snack bar operator Maureen Gutierrez stands in preparation alongside her fellow cafeteria workers to serve over 1,200 students for the day.

SCUSD decided to offer free lunches to all students for the 2021-2022 school year. With free lunches, more students are eating school lunch, and some feel there are longer lunch lines than in previous years.

“We’re serving close to twelve-hundered meals per day. Prior to COVID, it was a little bit under a thousand,” Gutierrez said.

Food Assistant Annmarie Kabahit explained that the purpose behind making school lunches free is to provide all students with a sufficient and nutritious lunch since healthy meals are often not student priorities.

“It’s just to kind of give citizens’ families a break from paying,” Kabahit said. “Also, making sure all of the kids are able to eat regardless if they have money or not.”

Freshman Catalina Lopez appreciates the relief of cost and acknowledged that it benefits many students.

“I absolutely love it,” Lopez said. “It’s more convenient for students who are low-income, or kids who can’t bring a home lunch. They don’t have to worry about any lunch fees.”

Not entering a student ID number should move lines faster, but due to the increased amount of students receiving lunch, many feel the lines take longer than they have before. Junior Hayden Bartolome appreciates the fact that lunch is free yet struggles to endure the long lunch lines and the hazards they bring.

“I don’t like the length of the lunch lines because they’re really long, so people usually run to get there first and almost run into people,” Bartolome said.

Lopez agrees with Bartolome that the lengthy lines are a downside to free lunches.

“It gets stressful, and you become really impatient and hangry,” Lopez said.

Although many find the long lines a hassle, Kahabit explained that the lunch period allows for all students to have enough time to receive their lunch and eat before going to class.

“Lines are a little longer because we have more students, but there’s still plenty of time to eat,” Kahabit said. “By the time the last kid is in line, there’s adequate time to eat.”

Kahabit emphasized the intentions behind free hot lunches and always having food available for any student on campus. She believes every student deserves to eat and free lunches are a step in the right direction.

“Maybe some families wouldn’t necessarily buy school lunch because they’re trying to save money,” Kahabit said. “This way, they don’t have to worry about it. There’s always going to be food.”