The Days of Packing a School Lunch Are Over

Students opt for expensive alternatives to fill their appetite


Danielle Evans, Staff Writer

The bell rings for lunch as hungry students crowd the halls and stream into the parking lot—the race for a tasty, yet quick, bite begins. Ordering my usual Eye Opener bagel from Big-O, I grab a few wrinkled dollar bills from the back of my jean pocket, the last bit of change left over from a babysitting gig. It was that very moment when I realized this would probably be the last time I would eat out for a while. Bummed, I thought to myself “I need to find a better way to save money.” 

Dining out has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. For teens, this is a way to catch up with friends. Whether it’s grabbing a bean and cheese burrito from Taco Salsa or picking up your go-to Rebel from Dutch Bros, those daily outings add up– and contribute to spending more money than a teen budget allows. 

While grabbing a delicious handcrafted energy drink during lunchtime is a wonderful treat, not all students are able to spend up to $25 dollars on drinks and food at a time—nevermind daily. 

The Bend-La Pine school district’s new 2020-2021 option, the “Free Lunch Program”, was instituted last year as a way to make sure ALL students that need or want a hot meal have access at school. Yet it seems even with this factor, going out for food and drinks is as popular as ever. 

Fiona Brandt, Summit Sophomore, enjoys dining out almost everyday. On occasion, she’ll pack a lunch from home. Whether it’s a Lasercat rebel from Dutch, or some donut holes to share with her friends, you’ll almost always catch her with something in her hands.

“I like how convenient dining out is, the food is better and made faster than the food I make at home,” said Brandt.

Brandt is just one out of the many teens who choose to buy food at lunch. For some, it is the efficiency and convenience, for others, it is the freedom to get off campus.

“When there’s an open campus, that’s always more attractive to students than staying at school. Also, students have more choice when they are allowed to eat off campus other than the options offered in the school cafeteria,” said School Administrator, Kristy Knoll.

The Free Lunch Program meals intend to provide students with the best nourishment, variety, and service available. All menus are reviewed each week to make sure they meet any and all dietary guidelines. Ranging from a salad bar, tacos, tomato soup, pasta and more, taking advantage of a school provided lunch is one way to save money.

Another cost-efficient option is homemade lunch. Having leftovers from dinner, a bagel & cream cheese or even a classic PB & J is guaranteed to fill you up. 

Spending can be a slippery slope when you’re a teenager especially as teens begin to grasp the concept of saving. Learning how to utilize the most cost efficient resources at lunchtime, be it school or homemade, will be invaluable to students learning how to handle their money.