How healthy are Washington’s school lunch options?

Images provided by author. Top: Students picking up food from the free lunch area.

Since the reopening of in-campus learning, the FUSD allowed access to free lunch for all students no matter their economic status for the entire school year. Because of this, the cafeteria and snack bar have gotten overwhelmingly popular and crowded during lunch and break times. More students are now eating at school than ever before, and it’s important to consider the nutritional value of these meals. This article will list all options provided for students during lunch time provided by the Child Nutrition Services (CNS) website. School Lunch distributor Robin Tuck says that, “insert quote here”. She worries that these lunches might not be as healthy as students know. 

Bin full of wrapped spicy chicken burgers.
The spicy chicken burger offered by the school.
  1. Cheese Pizza (V) (400 kcal) (16g fat)
  2. Pepperoni (turkey) Pizza (340 kcal) (16.5g fat)
  3. Chicken Burger (408 kcal) (17g fat)
  4. Spicy Chicken Burger (317 kcal) (11.5g fat)
  5. 100% Beef Burger (420 kcal) (24g fat)
  6. Grilled Cheese (V) (280 kcal) (10 g fat)
  7. Bean and Cheese Burrito Grilled Cheese (V) (291 kcal) (8 g fat)
  8. Turkey and Cheese Sandwich (278 kcal) (9 g fat)
  9. Sunbutter and Jelly Sandwich (V) (640 kcal)
  10. Pita Bread Sandwich w/Hummus, Sunflower Seeds & Veggies (V) (465 kcal)
  11. Garden Salad w/ Garbanzo Beans & Homemade Roll

Now that school lunches are free, it’s important to take advantage of this new resource that the district has provided, but with caution. It is also important to pay attention to what you are intaking each day. A majority of these options are unhealthy and should not be eaten frequently. All Washington students should have access to free and healthy meals that respect all diets and dietary restrictions. Washington senior Amanda Cawthorn is vegetarian and says, “if the school offered more healthy vegetarian options I would eat here more often. There are fake meats and plant based foods that can and should be considered options. I believe a meal should have all the comments (grain, protein, veggies, etc) and although the school lunch is doing a great job of ensuring we are fed and not starving, it lacks in important areas.” Many students rely on school lunches everyday for a number of reasons. Yasmin Samoy, Washington senior, says that school lunches provide a quick and efficient way to make sure she has something to eat. “Sometimes I forget my lunch at home, or the morning gets too hectic to pack something, so being able to go to the cafeteria is extremely helpful but it’s my second option,” said Samoy. Other students however rely completely on cafeteria food. “I don’t pack food. I literally only eat from the cafeteria or don’t eat at all even though I don’t really like the food,” said one senior who wishes to remain anonymous.

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