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Cleveland Journal

School’s location leaves few options for lunch

Jelia Farr, Reporter

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School lunch has been a problem for a long time. Kids are usually not satisfied with the quality or variety of the food selection. Then comes high school – when students are allowed to leave campus for lunch. It should be a happy time, but Cleveland students cannot enjoy the luxury without a cost. Eagles face the dilemma of either missing advisory, being late to class or missing out on a tasty meal they will truly enjoy.

Cleveland hasn’t always been a food desert; there was once a bakery across the street, but it closed in 2013. Now, students have options that require a car or, at the very least, a strong will to walk. Red Apple, Safeway and McDonald’s are options, but they are quite a distance.

For the students who have cars – or access to one – to leave school for lunch, the mounting food cost takes a toll on their pockets. Aside from gas and food cost, these mobile students also run the risk of being late for class.

“I often skip advisory when going to get lunch,” said Rodolfo Baba, a senior who frequently eats lunch off campus. Baba believes restaurants and food stores are too far in comparison to other high schools.

Take Franklin, for instance. The school sits in the heart of Rainier Avenue, surrounded by food options like QFC, Starbucks and Wendy’s. Cleveland is located in the largely residential Beacon Hill neighborhood where the nearest take-out restaurant located in Georgetown, which is, at minimum, 15 minutes each way by foot.

Baba often has to choose between skipping advisory or not eating lunch at all because the roughly 30-minute lunch period is not enough time to travel to the nearest restaurant and make it back on time.

For students without access to a car, the struggle is even more real. Students who don’t want to eat a school lunch must rely on unpredictable public transportation or walk a lengthy distance to get food.

Senior William Pharn, who regularly eats school lunch, said he was “frustrated with the lack of food choices and taste” that Cleveland has to provide. Pharn wishes he had a car to get food he likes instead.

Lunchroom manager Susie Kelly has heard the complaints countless times before, but said she has no control over what food is served at school and is obligated to follow district guidelines.

“Sometimes I’ll throw in food I think students will like,” she said.

According to Kelly, there’s a problem within the problem. She believes students who are on free and reduced lunch are intimidated to eat because of what kids who have access to better food say about school lunch.

“Students would sometimes starve themselves than eat cafeteria food because of what kids who don’t even eat school lunch say about it,” she said.

An alternative for students could possibly be concession stands or a student store, but the district has strict guidelines as to how food is handled during school hours.

High school students already have a lot on their plate, but at Cleveland that plate comes with a hefty price tag.

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School’s location leaves few options for lunch