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Pacer NYC

The Student News Site of Pace High School

Pacer NYC

School Lunch Budget Cuts Set a Bad Precedent for NYC

photo Soumik Dey
The cafeterias are a shared space between Pace High School, M.S. 131, and Emma Lazarus High School.

In recent years, school lunch has been a hot topic all over the country. Michelle Obama massively changed the status quo with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, but a new email sent to school food officials detailed major changes to the lunch schedule in February 2024.

Chalkbeat NYC reported that the New York City Department of Education planned on, “removing a host of pricier items, including student favorites like cookies, chicken dumplings, and bean and cheese burritos.” Other school lunch favorites that got the ax last month are chicken tenders, french fries, and salads. Lunch wasn’t the only thing seeing budget cuts, as breakfast items such as french toast sticks, breakfast meal kits, and muffins were removed from the rotation.

These cuts were all part of a $60 million dollar budget cut to school food funding ordered by Mayor Eric Adams last November, detailed in a Preliminary Budget document for Fiscal Year 2025.

The student body of Pace has taken issue with this change.

Farai Reid, a sophomore, took issue with these school lunch changes, saying “lots of people can’t go outside for lunch, and times get desperate and sometimes people need to get school lunch.” She also said, “When my stomach’s empty, I can’t think straight and focus,” further emphasizing the importance of reliable food for all NYC students.

Senior Eli Acatitla also states, “being a student athlete often requires for a proper meal to be able to perform at the highest level…having to lose those factors in a school meal affects us more than expected.” This further reiterates the need for nutritious and fulfilling meals for students. Eli also mentions the costly nature of food from outside joints: yet another reason why many students rely on school lunch for sustenance in between classes.

When asked about the impact of these budget cuts, school chef Jay anticipated “a significant decrease” in school lunches eaten. Jay said, “In all schools, chicken is popular; chicken tenders, chicken poppers, roasted chicken…The kids also liked seasoned fries.” These favorites being unavailable for students to discourage students.

However, it seems that mass uproar from students reversed these changes, and all sorts of fan-favorite foods are returning to the menu, such as french toast sticks and chicken dumplings. Despite this, the fact that Eric Adams slashed funding for school lunch can mean bad things for the future. Who knows; later on, something like this might happen again, and possibly on a grander scale. The students shouldn’t have to fight for their right to good, nutritious food to excel in academics.

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Soumik Dey
Soumik Dey, Culture Editor
Soumik Dey is a sophomore and a reporter for the PacerNYC. He enjoys playing badminton, spending time with his friends, and free writing in his spare time. When he's not at school, he likes to travel around the city and try new food with friends and family.

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