What’s the Worth?

School lunch prices have increased to $3.15, a stark contrast to the free lunch program last year.


A lunch lady calculating a student’s lunch.


That’s the sound of school lunch prices increasing this year, costing an average of about $3.15 compared to last year’s almost free lunch. This has been one of the many things that have changed in Francis Howell Central for the 2022-23 school year, as well as the most controversial.

According to official health statistics, the average teen girl body needs at least 2,000 or more calories, teenage boys 2,500 to 3,000 calories in order to get the nutrients the body needs for the day. Along with that, the teenage human body in general needs to consume around 6 to 8 cups. However, with the new prices increasing 10 cents, students are having to break into their piggy banks for a couple of spare pennies.

The problems listed are an everyday scenario for senior Megan Payne, a student that has recently struggled due to the increase in school lunch prices.

“I remember in the early weeks of school, I had seen a lot of kids giving up their lunches, and I was one of them.¨ Payne said. “I was one of the kids that had to give up my lunch constantly because none of us could afford it.”

When the Hunger Free Kids Act was set into effect in 2010, it originally stated that funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs is given increased access to healthy food for low-income children. However, with the lunch prices increasing, multiple students like junior Clover Patton are finding that they can’t afford it, but also are finding that it was a very rough change for everyone; not just the students.

The Worth of $3.15: Students that buy lunch receive one main item, a side and fruit to get them through the entire day. (Emily Sirtak)

“I loved having free lunch, and I really thought that it was a great time,” Patton said. “But, they upped the prices without telling us. So, parents thought that the lunches were free, but we had to pay for our lunch whenever we got back to school, which made it a really harsh change for both students and parents.”

Medical officials have spoken on why snacks specifically are so important as well, not just how much the teen body needs. The reason why snacks are so supposedly important is because they keep a student energized throughout the day, and they keep student’s hunger satisfied between lunches. That’s not necessarily the case anymore, according to sophomore Alex Burke.

It’s just that the lunches are so expensive, and I try to get something extra to eat like a snack because I’m just so hungry.” Burke said, “Not having a full meal before that, it doesn’t even help, either, especially since we have 7 hours a day during a school period, so one small snack isn’t going to get us by.”

Because of the lunch prices, students are finding that instead of relying on their parents, they may have to pay for themselves, which is a problem for many. Regardless of how much the prices may help some people, there is that group of people that are going hungry each day because of their income.

So here’s the true question: are the school lunch prices really worth it? Or is it just something that only benefits a certain group of people?