Full Price Lunch Returns, Choices Do Not


Zach Kennett

EHS students eat lunch on the first day of school, the first time lunches costed $3 in over a year.

Maddox Karnes, Arts and Entertainment editor

The year was 2019. Students would scurry towards the lunch lines to get pizza, burgers, salads and a plethora of other food selections.

 Now, in 2022, students are taking measures to purposely avoid having to partake in school lunches.

Prior to the pandemic, students were offered either a standard school lunch, for approximately $3, or they could select from the a la carte menu. This was a larger selection that had students paying for each individual item. This iteration of school lunch was a favorite by many students.

“Freshman year lunches were awesome,” senior Cole Simpson said. “We could get anything we wanted whether it was french fries and chicken nuggets in one line or tacos in another.”

Not only was the a la carte menu a favorite for many students, it also proved to increase the number of students eating school lunch. Approximately 61% of students in the class of 2023 said they bought lunch from school during their freshman year. Now that number has gone down to approximately 35%.

“If I don’t like the lunch I just won’t eat [school lunch] that day,” senior Ava Long said. “Why would I buy food that I don’t want to eat?” 

The decline in purchases of school lunches can also be attributed to the changing prices of the standard lunches. After COVID, the standard lunches were free and paid for by the federal government. 

Now lunches have returned to being $3, but their quality hasn’t gotten any better according to students.

“I have started eating lunch just after school because I am not carrying a lunchbox all day and I simply do not want to eat cold chicken nuggets and chewy tater tots,” senior Troy Shaffer said.

Since the standard school lunches are back to normal, students have one question: Where is the a la carte menu? Dr. Steve Stuart says there are two reasons behind the menu’s current absence.

“Staffing wise we’ve not had a full kitchen back there,” Dr. Stuart said. “We have to make sure we get the regular entrée out before we worry about the other items.”

Dr. Stuart also said that getting the supply chain back in order is another reason for the lack of additional lunch items. Despite these obstacles, Dr. Stuart still has hope for the possibility of this menu’s return.

“They are talking about getting items slowly starting about this month or next month,” Dr. Stuart said. “Then [they will] reintroduce more items as they become available.”

The fate of the a la carte menu seems to be pointing in a positive direction. But for now, “cold chicken nuggets” and “chewy tater tots” will have to do.