Lunch Program Fails Students with Dietary Restrictions


Makayla Erickson

With too-small portion sizes and food that does not meet dietary requirements, the lunchroom must do better in providing their services to students.

As of the 2020-2021 school year, Campolindo, along with all other California public schools, agreed to provide free school lunches to anyone who may want it. The administration has also promised that they will provide specific lunches to individuals that are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. While this sentiment is well-intended, it has not been executed well.

I am a gluten-free individual that relies on school lunches to provide food for me during the day. Many people who are gluten-free have something called Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks your immune system and the lining of your small intestine. While avoiding gluten is an easy fix to ease symptoms, it is often very difficult to find things that are safe to eat. People who are gluten-free cannot eat anything from pasta, cupcakes, cheez-its, pie, to even bread. These requirements make a task as simple as eating much harder for anyone with celiac.

When Campolindo said they would provide lunch that was gluten-free, I was so happy. I thought that I would no longer have to either stay up late or get up early to make lunch for myself when I am already busy with various activities and swamped with homework.

However, in the past few weeks I have received 3 lunches that have had gluten. This is a serious problem because people with celiac can have very serious consequences, such as having a stomach ache for days or even weeks on end.

When the school first started the free lunch program, the lunches were overall very good. They had a large variety with many different sides and good portion sizes. I was often served things like chicken tenders, spaghetti, chicken burgers, and pizza, and was always left feeling full after eating. However, as time went on, the variety, sizes and overall quality of the lunches went down.

Many times, I would open my lunch and there would be a simple burger with 1 thin patty, a bun, and nothing else. This is not enough food for the average teenager, especially because of all the extracurricular activities and challenging courses that Campo is known for.

The school should at least keep their promise to provide truly gluten-free meals, or not be deceitful saying that they will provide for individuals with dietary restrictions when they do not.