Letter: Free school lunch is best option for Utah kids
According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 children in Utah face hunger. The problem can only get worse with inflation, the housing crisis, and rising food costs. Although there are social safety nets, such as SNAP, WIC, and food banks, there are income limits and hardworking families can slip through the cracks. During the Covid-19 pandemic, public schools provided free lunch for all students, regardless of income. Children were able to eat nutritious school lunches five days a week, which in some cases may have been the only food they ate that day. They could eat without experiencing pressure or embarrassment about having less than their peers, which can improve their mental health and reduce anxiety. Struggling parents knew that their children were getting a healthy meal during the day.
Unfortunately, the government discontinued free school lunches for all students during the current school year. Low-income families may still qualify for free or reduced lunches, but the income guidelines don’t take into consideration the expenses the family may have due to inflation and high housing costs. Utah is known for being a family oriented state, but we still allow children to go hungry. Our state can do better. We should institute universal free lunches in all public schools, regardless of income. The benefits certainly outweigh the cost. Anyone who has cared for children knows that they do better in school when they are not going hungry. Children are able to concentrate better and their behavior improves when they are well fed. Other states have already instituted free school lunch for all children, and we should do the same. Our children deserve it!