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The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

Michigan Schools Offer Free Lunch

Skylines+empty+lunch+room+getting+prepped+before+it+gets+invaded+by+hungry+students.+Credit%3A+T.+McCallion%0A
Skyline’s empty lunch room getting prepped before it gets invaded by hungry students. Credit: T. McCallion

The free lunch program is being offered for every student in the State of Michigan during the 2023-2024 school year. 

So far, there is not much information about this program extending to the 2024-2025 school year. However, Michigan lawmakers approved $160 million from the $24.3 billion school aid budget to fund the program and distribute the money to school districts throughout the state. $2.5 million was also set aside for forgiving student lunch debt by February 2024.

At least eight states including Michigan have passed a universal meal program. Michigan.gov says the school aid fund (SAF) includes revenue from the following sources: sales and use tax, income tax, property tax, federal revenue, state lottery funds, flow-through entity, etc.

Along with school lunches, breakfast will also be free for the entire year to ensure students are getting what they need. “[The state] tried to get it last year, but it took all year,” explains Tanya Bersano, kitchen manager at Skyline High School. “It’s to bring down the cost of food to feed their kids for the year [if they are] not doing so well…That’s their whole point of doing this — to help families to make sure kids aren’t going hungry.” 

During the pandemic, free lunch was provided through Federal funds. The program aimed to make lives easier for students and their families financially, considering that many people were laid off. Now, by Governor Whitmer signing the bipartisan education budget it gives a similar aim: to expand access to healthy meals for students while also helping families save money. A full school meal includes a minimum of 3 food groups and a maximum of 5 (veggies, fruit, protein, grains, and dairy.) 

“I feel like it’s a really good thing for students who may not be able to afford their own lunch,” states Ayden Schlecht (‘26). “[Students] can just like get the free lunch from school and be able to have something to fill them up before practice or something else.”

“I did not know there was free lunch, but I feel great about it,” explains Azure Klusek (‘24).        

There were 550 students eating school lunch last year and 800 students eating it this year. Chartwells produces more meals, orders more food, and hires more employees to provide for the students at Skyline. This year Chartwells increased their staff by four people (from eight to twelve).

“In the last few years, keeping enough staff has been a struggle for Chartwells,” explains Martha Stange, Skyline community assistant. “But this year it’s been really good. We’ve been able to maintain every station right over there [inside of the servery]. I don’t know if they increased their wages… But I think for it all to work, we all work together…  we want to make sure they’re successful and they’re not overstressed.” 

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About the Contributor

Teagan McCallion ('26) is a news writer for The Skyline Post. As a student-athlete, she competes in diving and track. She likes to bake whenever she finds a new easy recipe, and you can always find her at school or in her bed sleeping.