Mount Greylock Continues With Free Lunch Initiative

Krishiv Malhorta


Mount Greylock began offering free lunches in September 2020. The state of Massachusetts was the driving force for this, and the goal was to be able to offer free lunches to all students to help with families’ with struggling financial situations during the pandemic. The initiative is still going on; all kids can eat school lunch for free, and there are no income limits for receiving a free meal, as there were in previous years. 

The state started the initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed numerous challenges for families to get healthy and nutritional food. The state and federal governments are providing funding for the lunches. The federal government provides money to Massachusetts as part of the COVID Relief Law, and the state government then distributes the funds to schools in Massachusetts. Certain families still have stamp benefits, but the free lunches help students get healthy and nutritious food. 

Jacob Schutz, principal of Mount Greylock, said, “One of the driving factors of this initiative was being able to support students and give them meals so they can learn better.”

Tammy Jennings, the school’s food service director, loves the idea of free lunches. “I think it’s great that all students have the option of free lunch every day, even for students that don’t need the free lunch. It makes things easier if families or students don’t have to make lunch,” said Jennings.

She hopes that the free lunches will stay even after the pandemic is declared over. Depending on the situation with COVID at the end of the school year, the state will decide whether to continue to provide funding. If COVID persists, chances are the school lunches will stay free, but if COVID becomes less threatening, the school will go back to its lunch costs from two years prior to the virus.

Two years ago, a select group of students could get discounts or free lunch depending on familial income situations or if they lived in a low-income town. The school reports the number of students eating free lunches monthly so that the state can keep track of how many students are eating free lunches, and note its benefits.

“I think the students like the free lunches because the monthly numbers keep going up,” said Jennings. In October 2021, about 250 lunches were served daily, and in the first few days of November, the numbers have gone up to 280 lunches served per day. This represents 56 percent of the student population.

Amelia Madrigal, an eighth-grader at Greylock, thinks that free lunch is great and helps lots of students. “The lunches help students with low income or students that can’t make lunch. The food changes daily, giving it lots of variety, so students don’t get bored of eating the same thing,” said Madrigal. 

Mount Greylock provides different lunches on a monthly cycle so students can enjoy a variety of lunches. Madrigal said, “The free lunches give every portion of a meal that’s needed, and it helps students save money.” 

Madrigal is a school lunch buyer and normally enjoys the food. “I can’t make lunch and it helps me in the mornings. Also, the money stacks up over the year, but the free lunches save lots of money.” 

The free lunch initiative has been mandated by the state due to COVID. It helps students have healthy and nutritious meals.