What Do Students Really Think About School Lunches?


Photo by Patrick F. and Helen S.

Longfellow lunches, shown above, are free for everybody and provide you the energy to get through the day.

Over the past few weeks, my partner and I interviewed students who eat school lunches. We asked them what they thought about the lunches, which menu items were their favorites, and if they could add any food in the world to the menu, what it would be and why. Some of their answers may surprise you. 

Getting proper nutrition and energy is essential for school and good grades. In a study on healthy lunches and academic performance, the State of California found that schools that offered healthier lunches for a reduced price saw an increase in California state achievement test scores. This shows that healthy, less expensive lunches are extremely beneficial to students’ performance.

School lunches are offered all over the world, but they vary in price and options. For example, in France, students are served brie, green beans, carrots, steak, kiwi, and apples. In Spain, students eat bread rolls, shrimp with brown rice, gazpacho (a cold tomato soup), peppers, and an orange. While these are very different from what we eat over here, we also have certain advantages. Our schools currently offer free lunches, a luxury that not everybody can enjoy.  

Longfellow Students had various suggestions for foods they wanted to see on the menu. “If you could add any food in the world to the lunch menu, what would it be and why?” was the first question we asked. We got a variety of different answers. Benji B. said he would want watermelon on the lunch menu “Because it is big, juicy, and tasty.” But Kay T. said she would like to add pomegranate to the lunch menu “because it is colorful and it could add something bright to the lunch food.” 

One food item that we noticed making a reappearance was Sushi. Both Sophia D.l and Layla K. said they would want sushi on the lunch menu “because it is really good.”

Next, we asked about the most liked and least liked foods on the menu. Surprisingly, no one had the same favorite or least favorite foods. 

 “My favorite is probably the specials that they provide during Thanksgiving. You know, the cranberry sauce and stuff.  And my least favorite is definitely the spicy chicken sandwiches because it’s just so… like it’s not good. I don’t feel like the spice is right. I don’t think it’s very healthy because it’s so unnaturally colored that I am worried about it when I eat it.” Kay said. 

In addition, cheesy dishes are not a hit in the school. “The cheese doesn’t really taste like normal cheese, so I don’t like it that much,”  Sasha says. 

“The cheeseburger does not taste like a cheeseburger. It tastes funky,” said Benji.

Alternatively, a common favorite was the curly fries, with both Sophia and Layla agreeing they like them “because they are fun, curly, and seasoned well.”

While not everyone likes the school lunches, everybody we interviewed agreed that the school lunches are a great thing to have, especially since they are free.