Free Lunch Program Comes to an End


Lunch for the 2022-23 school year is no longer free.

Free school lunches have been discontinued at GHS during the 2022-2023 school year. Many of the students are very upset about having to pay for school lunch. 

Free meals began in August of 2020, as part of the Covid National Relief system. GHS students were able to get a free meal if they met the right requirements. A fruit, vegetable, and main meal were all necessary in order to obtain the free lunch. Many students took advantage of this and chose to get a school lunch every day. During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs, so the Gretna community rallied together by providing free meals through a drive-up service, to help people who were struggling financially.

“We used every precaution available and it provided a piece of normality,” District Director Sharon Schaefer said. “Many parents shared that they had no access to food, and picking up familiar items felt comforting.” 

In August of 2020, Gretna Public Schools announced that they would begin serving free lunches for the upcoming school year.  Our district wasn’t the only one that offered free meals, schools across the nation aided families in their communities by providing these lunches.

“The government saw a severe need in our country,” Schaefer said. “The funding was extended into the school year of 2021, but it was not renewed for this school year.” 

Some students have expressed a strong dislike for the decision to cut free lunches, and wish the program would be reinstated.

“I really liked not paying for school lunches,” sophomore Sabrina Andrews said. “I get that Covid is basically over, but I don’t want to start paying for any of the lunches. I think that the people who live in Gretna are able to pay. I also know some people from different schools that can’t afford school lunches, so I think that the government should just bring it back.” 

Although the program no longer allows for free lunches, the school still offers other options for families that are in an unstable financial situation. 

“I feel like it is our responsibility to cover all of the students’ meals,” Schaefer said. “ Lunch is a necessity in a child’s growth and having the ability to focus in the classroom.”