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 lunch at school.
“Buying lunch at school is actually quite inexpensive," said Lois Ludwig, the head cook at Parkview Middle School. "Right around four dollars you get fruit, you get veggies, you get a nice prepared meal.”
With the cost of groceries steadily rising, it's easy for the average price of a lunch from home to surpass the $3.75 that a school lunch costs for Ashwaubenon grades 6-12 (or $3.25 for grades K-5). That's why food service workers argue that it's not only more economical, but also more time saving and even at times more nutritious.
Ashwaubenon Child Nutrition Coordinator Kaitlin Tauriainen, who is a dietician, says she decided to conduct her own experiment to compare school lunches versus packed lunches.
“I have done research on what I would pack my own children to bring to school from home versus what we would serve at school," Tauriainen said. "The lunch that they would bring from home was higher in fat, higher in added sugar, less fiber.”
Tauriainen says more families began relying on school lunches amid the pandemic. She says the number of families applying for free and reduced lunch spiked - even when lunch was still free at the time.
“To see that increase in numbers when they didn’t even have to use it for food at the time was kind of startling," Tauriainen said. "So we know the need is out there."
Even though families are paying for school lunch once again this year, food service workers say they’re still saving families money and meeting a greater need than ever.
“It’s made sincerely with a lot of love," Ludwig said. "My crew puts a lot of love into it so your kids are going to be well taken care of."