Wayne Public Schools Introduces Free Lunch Program for 2021-22 School Year


Summer Sreepada

Food service employee serves out school lunch at Wayne Hills.

By Jackie Sauer and Summer Sreepada

Inspired by last year’s “Grab and Go” lunch program, school lunches at Wayne Hills High School are now available to students at no extra charge. Not only is the price policy different, but the school lunches are not provided on trays like in previous years.

“Self-serve options and self-service stations are not offered at this point. The packaged and individually wrapped items will be continued as needed,” Michael Schmitt from The Wayne Schools’ Nutrition/Foodservice Team wrote on the ‘Welcome Back’ letter. The styrofoam packages hold the main part of the meal, a vegetable, and an extra piece of food, like a piece of bread. 

Not only is lunch made and served for free, but the district has no-charge breakfast bags as well. Before school, students are allowed to go into the cafeteria and grab a bag full of breakfast foods, so during the day they have the energy they need. The biggest issue that the school district has been facing this year is COVID-19,

which is rightfully a concern to parents about the foodservice cooking meals for their children. For that exact reason,  The Wayne Schools’ Nutrition/Foodservice Team has followed strict regulations when preparing meals for students. The ‘Welcome Back’ letter states, “Staff members will regularly report on their health each day. Hand Washing – This has always been the case, staff members will continue to wash hands frequently. Our food service team will wear masks and gloves when preparing food and interacting with our students,” and so far, there haven’t been any big issues made by concerned parents after reading the reassuring letter. 

One of the best parts about this school’s lunch procedure is that students get options of what to eat. Given menus, the kids can choose what they want to eat during the day-the picky eaters must be lucky! Access to the lunch menus is easily available on the school’s website. Additionally, the school administration is not distributing lunches in batches by week for pick up as they did the previous year. It has been discontinued because now that the district is using entirely in-person learning, parents don’t need to grab the box of weekly lunches – now students can just go to a la carte food and get a lunch meal just for that day. With that being said, the administration is also not permitting the lunches to be pre-ordered, nor requiring a sign-up form to get them. This means students can get lunch for one day in the entire school year without having to sign up for anything-no strings attached. “I like that they [the school lunches] are free. It’s convenient,” said Wayne Hills freshman Isis Belviz.

Additionally, those that may not have a lot of money will not have to worry about paying for lunch. “I think it’s good for people who are struggling financially because it’s an easy way for them to have access to food,” said Radha Pingle, a sophomore at Wayne Hills. The free meals program will allow

students who might otherwise not eat to be able to get food during the school day.

2021 has a lot of things being done differently than normal and is changing the future of everything as we know it, including school lunch. The payment for school lunches does not exist anymore and students are free to get a meal during their lunch period without any charges necessary. Students and parents seem to like this new idea, along with the district. However, many people around the schools are wondering, how long will this free school lunch policy last?