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Free Lunch: A Lifeline for Many

“Upon my arrival at her home in California 21 years ago, Mrs. Susan told me, ‘I can only manage to provide one meal a day, which is dinner,'” she confided.

“But don’t worry, I’ve signed you up for the free school lunch program,” Mrs. Susan assured me.

After her partner left, Mrs. Susan faced the uphill battle of supporting her two young children alone. My presence, as an Indonesian student staying with her, added to her challenges.

Working as a sales clerk at a local supermarket, Mrs. Susan earned just enough to scrape by, often struggling to meet the family’s financial needs. Thankfully, the California government stepped in with aid, including free school lunches for her household, benefiting me during my stay.

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For students from economically challenged families like Mrs. Susan’s, the school’s free lunch program often offers the most nutritious meal of the day, complete with carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, fruits, and milk.

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At home, our meal options were usually limited to inexpensive frozen foods or fast food, both poor in nutritional value.

I faced each school day on an empty stomach.

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When the bell rang at 11:45 a.m., I would eagerly head to the cafeteria, where I, alongside many students from similar financial backgrounds, would enjoy the free lunch provided.

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Jose, my teammate on the soccer team, and I would savor every bit of our meals.

These nutritious meals were crucial for sustaining us through the rigorous physical training sessions led by Coach Coleman.

In essence, my experiences stand as a clear endorsement of the free school lunch program’s vital role.

Without these meals, I can hardly imagine how I, and students from similar socio-economic backgrounds, would have managed to concentrate on learning and engage in extracurricular activities like sports.

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Presently, in the United States, eight states have expanded the free lunch program to all students, not limited to those from financially constrained families. This program has demonstrated significant benefits for students in America and in the numerous other countries where it has been adopted, and I am hopeful that its positive impact will extend to Indonesia as well.

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Source: Instagram @Hamdan.Hamedan

 

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