Free school lunches come with changes in quality, nutrition


Photo taken by Atticus Chames.

Atticus Chames, Staff Writer

As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to safely reopen schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension last April which has allowed for free meals to be provided to all students during the 2021-2022 school year. The extension has helped to relieve some financial stress for families across the country as a result of the pandemic. 

However, most students have noticed a considerable change in the consistency and quality of their lunches compared to previous years.

“Sometimes they’re good, and then other times you get stuff that is kinda bad,” senior Jacob Harltey said.“They have their ups and downs”

This seems to be a common sentiment among Tualatin High School students since the school year began. 

“I’m not really sure what’s going on,” Hartley expressed.

The problem, as it turns out, originates within the national supply chain from a lack of truck drivers and processing plant workers. This shortage has resulted in the frequent delay and cancellation of food deliveries from distributors with little to no notice beforehand, forcing schools to improvise. Some schools are even struggling to meet certain USDA standards, requiring “temporary waivers” granted by the Oregon Department of Education to change nutritional requirements.

“Items are unfortunately changing daily depending on what is delivered and what we have on hand,” Tigard-Tualatin School District nutrition services manager Kim Leung said. “Our school nutrition services staff are adapting and being wonderfully creative with our meals.”

Though it is uncertain when things will return to pre-pandemic levels of “normal”, it is clear that the TTSD Nutrition Services Department is doing everything possible to ensure hot and nutritious meals are being provided to students every day.

“We are committed to serving healthy meals to our students that meet the USDA school meal requirements.”