Photo of $5 School Lunch Goes Viral: 'Have This or Nothing'

A picture of a school lunch featuring only fried foods and a bag of "fancy ketchup" has caused outrage online, with some suggesting food is better in jail than it is in our education system.

On Thursday a student posted a picture of their friend's lunch to Reddit, featuring what some users identified as two sausages, a hash brown, two French toasts, and a bag of "fancy ketchup." The accompanying caption said: "[Picture] of school lunch my friend got."

The Redditor, posting under the username Deadlydiamond98, later explained that it wasn't even a free lunch, and it was also the only option available at the canteen: "It was a $5 meal, they have that or nothing."

While schools had some flexibility during the COVID lockdowns to serve all kids free meals, some of those options have now expired. According to the Department of Agriculture, many schools can't serve all meals for free anymore.

For the school year 2022/23, schools will take applications and use family income to qualify kids for either free, reduced-price, or paid school meals. Some schools use a program called the "Community Eligibility Provision" that helps them serve all meals for free.

=The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program (NSLP), requires five food components, each with daily and weekly minimums, including fruits; vegetables, with minimum requirements for each of the 5 vegetable subgroups; grains, meats/meat alternates, and fluid milk.

The post, which was shared on the r/mildlyinfuriating subreddit, has gone viral, receiving over 12,400 upvotes and 2,100 comments—and the internet didn't take it well.

One user, LegalAssassin13, commented: "This looks a bit too dystopian. Maybe throw in a packet of ketchup. Make sure it's one of the ones that say it's fancy. That should do it."

And I-love-to-eat-banana joked: "It's a single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. Everything the body needs."

Another user, D23178, said: "The sausage looks like fish scales, hash brown looks raw, and the French toast looks [like] it has too much brown sugar, where's the syrup? Then again I was [greatful for] having breakfast at all."

Hairy_Location1491 joked: "Ah yes the three lunchtime essentials. Yellow, brown, and black nutrient logs."

Other users said the food looked worse than in prison. Nardorian1 commented: "Looks worse than jail food." And eonone1 added: "They wouldn't allow those in prison. They could be used as deadly weapons."

SnooDoodles7962 joked: "Was the cafeteria [personnel] unaware that school was open today?"

Newsweek reached out to u/Deadlydiamond98 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

If you have a similar story, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

school meals
A stock image shows a canteen serving school meals. Th picture of a school meal featuring only fried foods has caused outrage online, prompting people to think that food is better in jail than in school. Getty Images