Budget cuts and extended free lunches

Changes made to lunch leave many having questions.


Arno Mortensen, News Editor

During the 2021-22 school year, when most students returned to in-person learning after a stretch of remote learning due to COVID, Gunnison High School (GHS) began offering free breakfasts and lunches to all students, to ensure students were fed no matter their families income. This year the policy changed, leaving many students shocked when they came back to school in August to find that the school breakfasts and lunches were no longer free.


Some blamed the school, but the reason the food is no longer free is due to state budget cuts on school meals, leaving the school in search of funding to keep the same quality of food. Not only do students have to pay for lunch, but many students qualify for free or reduced lunch which lowers the amount of money that can be put back into the school’s food program.


There is still hope for the return of free meals, as many politicians and teachers, including Gunnison Schools Kitchen Manager Trina Lull, are fighting for the reinstatement of free meals. So far the campaign is doing fairly well, though its success is still uncertain. In November, Colorado residents will have a chance to vote for the return of free school meals, which would have them return for the 2023-24 school year.

Stacey Ackerson, AKA Mama O, and Michele Pilon prepare peach cobbler for Colorado proud day, which features all local food and ingredients.


To give another perspective, the staff of the Giddyup recently had the opportunity to interview some of the students and even a teacher to get their views on the change.
Kaden Olivas, a sophomore at GHS stated, “I really like the school food. It tastes good and I get why they have to charge for it but I think it was better free.”


Student Nick Borque said, “The food is good, and I know that they have to charge for the food to afford it, but I think charging money is kind of dumb.”


“The cafeteria staff work hard to ensure that students get fed, and after the online learning ended, us teachers got a bonus for the extra work we put in for the online learning, and I decided to put my bonus money into getting lunches from the school to show some appreciation to all the great stuff the cafeteria staff do,” said GHS teacher Jeanene Nelson. “There are many resources for kids with low income families so they can get the school food for a reduced price or even free.”