Lunches Are Continuing to Be Free For All Students


Photo by Daniel Botolino

A chicken patty with french fries for lunch

Daniel Botolino, Staff Writer

From food being unavailable to food now being free for students, school cafeterias across America, including Barnstable,  have faced challenges this fall. Prior to students going back to school in September, Barnstable Public Schools announced that it would continue providing school lunch for free to students, which began last year, due to COVID-19.¨The free lunch program came down from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).¨ said Barnstable Public Schools Nutrition Coordinator Dave Badot.

Badot and his colleagues decided to jump on this opportunity creating a brand new challenge for the department. ¨It’s been incredibly difficult¨. Badot said the challenges are due to safety. ¨Obviously student and staff safety is our top priority and making sure we can serve the students good food safely and quickly.¨

The challenges that COVID-19 has created for Badot aren’t just with the food. Badot admits staffing has become an issue. The majority of his cafeteria staff is middle-aged to older women, and Badot said a lot of them haven’t felt comfortable or safe coming back into the school. Another problem is the way the students get the food in the cafeteria. ¨We´ve had to change the way we serve the students.¨ Badot said. This includes different models for different schools, elementary schools are still being served their lunch inside their classrooms. Badot said that alone is a tremendous change because along with preparing the food, the cafeteria workers must package each meal for each student. Badot said¨It´s changed the whole look of school lunch.¨

With the pandemic moving in the right direction, every student is back in school full time. With education shifting back to normal, so is the food service department. ¨I´m trying to start to move back to what normal really can be.¨ Badot said. They are looking to give students more options such as cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches.

Obviously student and staff safety is our top priority and making sure we can serve the students good food safely and quickly, ”

— Badot

However, some students have not noticed these new options. Junior Nathan Stanley said, “I have had chicken for the fifth time in the past two weeks.” But Stanley isn’t complaining; he said chicken is his favorite food. Many others seem to agree with him as well. In most lunches, if you don’t get in the lunch line within the first five minutes of lunch, you probably will not get a chicken patty. That is alright with some kids, as they have another year with a salad option. Junior Kevin Siguencia said he gets school lunch every day, and gets the salad he said while munching on a piece of lettuce.