Is School Lunch a Right or a Privilege?


To make change in the world of school lunch reform, it’s critical to investigate how we think and view the idea of school lunch at its core.

Do kids deserve to have a lunch break while they are at school? Yes, I think we can agree that all kids should get a break in the middle of the day to eat something.

What if the kids don’t have money to pay for lunch? Should meals be offered by the school? Yes, the school should provide a meal to students who lack the ability to pay for lunch. If you struggle with this question, think about if less fortunate students didn’t get any lunch. They would not be able to learn on empty stomachs. Like I’ve mentioned in the past, most students that I work with are members of families that experience food insecurity. The school actually provides their best meal of the day.

Let’s examine the difference between the words “right” and “privilege.”

A right is “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”

A privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.”

My answers reveal that I think school lunch is a right and the definition of privilege includes the word “right.” CASE CLOSED: school lunch is a right and privilege.


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8 thoughts on “Is School Lunch a Right or a Privilege?

  1. Doesn’t not feeding your child constitute as child neglect? Why is it that the school have to take the job of parents? If children go hungry without the schools feeding them, the parents shouldn’t have custody.

    1. At least in Wisconsin, it is not child neglect if the reason the parents cannot provide for their children is poverty:

      Neglect is the “failure, refusal or inability on the part of a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person exorcising temporary or permanent control over a child, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.” Wis. Stat. sec. 48.02(12g).

  2. Child neglect? Maybe if the parents never give them food other than school lunches. I think the point is that some families cannot afford to buy enough food. Maybe school lunches are the best meals those kids eat regularly. What would taking the kids away from their parents accomplish? They would end up in foster care, which I’m pretty sure costs the government money. We just need the government to prioritize their expenses- they pay a lot more for things that are much less important than this issue.
    Can the writer of this blog write something about school inequality? it would make for a great topic if you haven’t done it already. I really think some of the readers need to understand the situations/ environments some of these kids grow up in. I’m a strong believer that all public schools should be equal- why does one school have multiple computer labs while another school can’t even afford textbooks? Why do some schools have air conditioning while other school have leaking roofs and no heat? Hierarchy of needs, people- you can’t learn if you’re hungry, unsafe, cold, etc.
    I can say from personal experience that food stamps alone don’t cut it in all situations. My income is less than $800/month and I only qualify for $11 worth of food stamps per months. Big friggin’ whoop. I’m not knocking food stamps- some people NEED them, but $11/ month isn’t livable. I’m lucky enough to have family who help me out.

  3. Parents should be responsible for their children. However, if you student attends a school that has the National School Lunch/Breakfast programs… The parent can be responsible and fill out a form to qualify for free or reduced meals.

    Doing nothing, not applying or not paying is irresponsible and should be stopped.

  4. In our republic, the USA is founded on the people being about to read so they can participate in elections, either voting or running for office. The idea is that people can self determine their opinions -not be told. To do that they need to be able to read.

    Therefore, if you want an open electorate you need to educate your population.
    That’s a Jeffersonian idea.

    To educate your population well, to set optimal conditions a child needs to have food in her belly.

    Schools should feed children.

    After WW2 the military found that our soldiers were malnourished, it was because of that they instituted the National School Lunch Program(NSLP). It was the military need to self defend our country that got that started. To this day schools that participate in the NSLP get some government food to feed the kids.

    BTW, it’s the military need for healthy young adults that is pushing the anti obesity lead in the USA, 10 years before Obama got into office.

    And schools take make every effort to ensure that kids are eating. Either running down parents who haven’t signed applications for free meals or chasing down parents who don’t pay.

    Children eating in schools is a fundamental part of our democracy.

  5. It is a privilege. The parents should be in charge of making sure their children are fed three meals a day. I don’t think the school should be forced to act the role of the parent and be sure to provide the food, sometimes out of their already sucky budget. Now do students deserve a lunch break? Most definitely – but the parents have the choice of giving the child money for lunch or packing one. If a child is seen without lunch day after day, then the parent should be reported to CPS.

  6. Wow. Case closed. I guess there is no reason to express an opinion otherwise.

    But I do want to be clear. The entire reason this blog exists is because school lunches are horrible. So to put this together, not only does my kid have to eat that garbage, I have to pay for other kids to eat it too? What about my right to keep my money? What gives you the right to take it from me and give it to anybody else? Or is it your privilege to dictate to me where my money goes?

    Well, you are going to fix that with this blog, right? If you succeed , then I get to pay for what you dictate is good food. Then I see your other post, ” Why I dropped out of school food reform movement…” and it is because attacking your employer is a bad idea. Isn’t it a right for your kids to be fed? What are you worried about? I’ll pay for it.

    Lets take a step back. The intentions for school lunch were good, I can’t deny that. But then reality hits. The food industry sees a massive opportunity to sell trash (and call it food) to politicians and therefore “donate” to their political campaigns. The same companies “donate” vending machines and cash to school principals. Next thing you know kids think Twinkies are a food group. Speaking of, why is Dairy a food group? Because the dairy industry donated. Why are worthless carbs the “foundation” of the pyramid? Because corn and wheat farmers donated the most. Yeah, that was the old one, when they realized they were killing us all, they changed it to “No recommendation.” Same government that told us to switch from butter to margarine. OOOPS! Turns out Proctor and Gamble donated too. Every 5 years, Congress gives $500 B to Iowa corn farmers who use that money to pay politicians, who vote for the farm bill….

    I don’t care what your intentions are. You should not be able to dictate anything to me any more than Iowa corn farmers or P&G or politicians. It is hilarious that you want to talk rights and privileges while you try to dictate what I do. You want an answer? Kill every government food program in existence. Then we can all enjoy the rights to pursue happiness that our founders, Aunt Jemima, Thomas Jefferson and Quaker Oat, intended.

    Billy VanCannon

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