Food service workers urge families to save by buying school lunch

ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — With inflation, bringing your lunch from home may be more expensive this school year. That’s why Ashwaubenon Food Service workers are urging families to save by buying school lunch.

“Buying lunch at school is actually pretty cheap,” said Lois Ludwig, the chef at Parkview Middle School. “About four dollars, you get fruits, vegetables, a nice prepared meal.”

With the cost of groceries on the rise, it’s easy for the average price of a drive-in lunch to top the $3.75 a school lunch costs for Ashwaubenon’s grades 6-12 students. (or $3.25 for K-5 students). That’s why food service workers say it’s not only more economical, but also faster and sometimes even more nutritious.

Ashwaubenon child nutrition coordinator Kaitlin Tauriainen, who is a dietitian, says she decided to conduct her own experiment to compare school meals to packed lunches.

“I researched what I would take with my own kids to school from home versus what we would serve at school,” Tauriainen said. The lunch they brought from home was higher in fat, higher in added sugars, less fibre.

Tauriainen says more families have started relying on school meals amid the pandemic. She says the number of families asking for free, reduced lunch has increased – even when lunch was still free back then.

“To see this increase in numbers when they didn’t even need to use it for food at the time was quite surprising,” Tauriainen said. “So we know the need is there.”

Even though families are once again paying for school lunches this year, food service workers say they’re still saving families money and meeting a bigger need than ever.

“It’s sincerely done with lots of love,” Ludwig said. “My team puts a lot of love into it so that your children are well taken care of.”