Lunch at Berkeley High School

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What does your student do for lunch?

Sept 2011

Do you have a student at Berkeley High? What do they do for lunch? Eat in the Cafeteria? How is the food there? Do they bring lunch? Do they buy lunch off campus? Or a mix? If they buy off campus, do you give them a weekly lunch allowance? If so, how much? And, any recommendations for healthy, cheap and tasty lunch place off campus? Thanks Freshman Mom

My sophomore daughter brings her lunch (which she makes) four days a week, and buys her lunch once a week. I give her $6 to buy lunch; I don't think she always spends it all. She doesn't care for the cafeteria food. Satisfied mom

I asked my son, who is now a sophomore at BHS, to respond to your post:

''Lunch at the Cafeteria is $4 and pretty good. There are a bunch of great places around Shattuck, such as: All Star Cafe; where you can get a healthy sandwich or some soup for $3.50 and $3.25 respectively; Arinelle Pizza, which sells a darn good slice for around $3.25; The Original (previously Mel's) where you can get a burger and fries for $5. Bringing a homelunch is always a viable option. It is up to you how to spend your money, my dad usually gives me enough money to eat off campus 1-3 times a week, although this year we are going to apply for free school lunch.''

Good luck! anon


Taking a lunch to school

Feb 2010


Re: Is it uncool to take lunch to high school?

My son is a freshman at BHS and I pack his lunch everyday and give him money once a week. He actually likes it because he says going off campus is a hassle and it takes a lot of time out of his lunch time to go off campus and get lunch. A lot of his friends bring lunch too. anon

My daughter is a junior at BHS. She makes her lunch at home & brings it to school most of the time. It's often leftovers or a sandwich. She might go off campus for lunch once a week. Some of her friends bring a lunch from home, too. No one gives her a hard time about it. I'm sure it really depends on the circle of friends your student has & who they hang with at lunch time. I similarly bring my lunch to work most of the time, eating out maybe once per week. I like to model that home lunch is healthier & far cheaper than buying all the time. BHS mom


How much should I budget for lunch?

May 2008


Hello - our daughter will be an incoming freshman this fall at Berkeley High, and my husband and I are trying to figure out a weekly food budget for her. We've learned that the cost of lunch in the cafeteria is an affordable $3.50 a meal, but then we were told that the cafeteria is packed during lunch and that, by far, most kids eat off campus. We thought it might be reasonable to have her pack her lunch three days a week and eat with friends in an off-campus restaurant the other two days, if the cafeteria is overwhelming and not really an option. Wondering what a reasonable amount of money to give her per week is and what most kids do for lunch at BHS. Thanks so much for your suggestions and input. New to Berkeley High

I pack a lunch for my daughter everyday and have for the last three years at BHS! I don't eat out everyday at lunch as it's so expensive, so why should she? What most kids do is go to the park and eat their home packed or store bought lunch or walk around Shattuck eating. (or eat their lunch in 2nd period!) Lots of kids get food from the cheaper local places, like Little Mandarin (CHEAP Chinese-yuck), Arinelle's pizza, Baja Fresh, a sandwich from Lox, Stock and Bagel, or any other of the cheaper places downtown. The food in the cafeteria is fine and I don't think the wait is terribly long as a lot of kids do eat out. But I have found when my daughter pleads to buy her lunch that $5 is fine and she goes to one of the aforementioned places. She eats at the cafeteria when she plays a home game on one of her sports team, they get a voucher. We tried the cafeteria prepaid card one semester, but she really didn't like that.

One thing about leaving campus to get food is that they have trouble getting back on-time for 4th period, especially that first year. They only have 45 minutes for lunch and it takes a few YEARS to gauge how long that is ;-)

I think they like variety and flexibility so however you can work that out within your budget. lifetime lunch-making mom!

$5 is enough per day, $7 if she wants something fancy. At 2 days per week that would be $10-$15. A lot of kids skip lunch. And a lot of kids eat crap...chips and and available. $20 a week in allowance would cover a couple lunches and a little bit for the weekend.Pay for a bus/BART pass and they're all set. Kids will ASK for more, but they really don't NEED it. Andrew

How kids approach lunch at BHS depends upon your expectations and those of your kid's friends--and their parents. My daughter is very frugal and preferred to take a bag lunch almost every day. She has a frugal dad who has done the same for as long as I've known him. I admit that I packed her lunch most mornings for at least the first couple of years, but I really didn't want her to skip lunch, which some kids do. Eventually she came to see it as fairly pathetic that her mother made her lunch, so she would make her sandwich the night before. Most of her friends also brought their lunches while a few of them-- those who seemed to have mysteriously unlimited amounts of money--made the mad dash up to Shattuck to buy lunch. Sometimes she kept those kids company but still ate her bag lunch. She and her friends typically ate outside in the park; in bad weather they found a classroom to eat in. They rarely bought the cafeteria food, claiming it was awful. My end of the bargain was to make sure lunch fixings were available, otherwise I would treat her to lunch. She made the (correct) assumption that if she bought lunch she would have to pay for it out of her own allowance. It didn't take long to figure out that was a pretty poor use of her money. anon

When my girls were at BHS they brought their lunch almost everyday and ate in the park with their friends. There are lot of quick serve restaurants on University and Shattuck that cater to the student lunch trade, but you have to eat while walking back to campus or else you will be tardy - it's an after-lunch problem. Maybe your daughter can talk to her friends and see if they want to bring their lunch at least during the first week. They will want to explore the off-campus options eventually, so see how it plays out the first few weeks, then set a budget. Brown bag mama


Weekly spending at Berkeley High?

Sept 2006


I gave my 13 year old daughter $80 to spend for the month at Berkeley High. Just short of mid- month I find out it is gone. My daughter\xc2\x92s friends all have more spending money than she does and go out to eat a lot. As a single mom, I don\xc2\x92t have the money to fund such activities for my daughter and two, buying fancy lattes in the morning and eating out for lunch is, I think, a little excessive. I have offered to help her budget and also to buy foods she likes for lunches. My question is\xc2\x85. What do other parents do around allowance/lunch/spending money for their Berkeley High kids? anon

We are the parents of a sophomore at BHS and have similar money issues. Last year we gave him 5$ per week for food at school (he also got $10 weekly allowance and he can do what he wishes with that) but no more. That allowed him to eat out with friends once a week. Just as you plan to, we supply food for him to make his own lunches. This year we have decided (partly from the wise parent recommendation on this website) to give him a monthly total as you do to help him learn to budget and make priorities. We are now giving him $125 per month for clothing, entertainment, and food. He may run out midmonth as your daughter did, but he will have to work to earn more if he wants it. An open campus can be a challenge, but there is nothing wrong with learning about budgeting and setting priorities about money at a young age. Part of that of course, is learning that some people have more money than others, and that can be tough. Good luck! anonymous

Last year my 17 year-old daughter had the maturity to beg me NOT to give her her whole allowance at one time -- and her's was a weekly allowance. Why give your daughter a month's allowance at a time at her age? Once its gone its gone, but I think your expectation that she would behave responsibly (or SHOULD at her age!) is a burden for her to bear. Heather

Regarding money at BHS and Dad's night: Our family always did the bag lunch thing until our daughter went to BHS. She tried to keep it up but all her buddies wandered Shattuck at lunchtime, buying their bagels, lattes, Chinese food, etc. She wasn't eating her bag lunch! Rather than have her go hungry or in debt to friends, we gave her a very modest lunch allowance of $2 a day for a bagel with cream cheese. For the first several months, we gave her the money each day, so she wouldn't blow it all in a day. Now we are giving her about $15 on Mondays. I really think if you give them too much they can't make good decisions about saving the money for inexpensive food later. And, yes, it's very hard when other kids get more spending money! kathe

We live in a very well off community and I'd say most of the teens get a generous stipend. We hired a young teen just turning 13 years old through a city youth work program. We also hired 2 other youth. Three years later, the 13 year old is still working for us on a weekly basis. She is wonderful and this has been the best thing for her and her family and my family in many ways! The reason she was motivated to work was her parents told her that she needed to pay for her own clothes and any food she ate outside of the home. Although she was angry with them at first, she is one of the most self confident, smart, and geniunely beautiful 16 year olds that I know. She will be able to do anything she sets her mind on. Her parents taught her to fish instead of fishing for her! anon mom

My son who is now a senior at BHS has been getting $20 a week for the past few years. We buy his bus pass and school related items, but he is responsible for his clothes, cell phone, movies, meals/ school lunches out with friends, concerts, etc. We do pay for school activities, other things, such as ski or dress clothes, some prom expenses, occasional lunches outand any activity/trip he does with us, etc. He claims it is not enough, but he manages with the help of money from babysitting and his summer job. He also claims that no other parents make their children pay their own expenses. That may be, but he has learnd to budget better, and knows that if he wants designer jeans, or trendy shoes he has to pay for them. Momma Scrooge

My grandson, who lives with me, is a freshman in high school. I give him twenty dollars per week. I started a few years ago with less money and increased it sort of by the year. I give it to him on Friday after school. He's not a big clothes person, but whenever he asks for clothes, I pay for them. I give him extra if he's going somewhere where he'll need extra money. Big expenses, like a trip to paintball jungle, I try to pay for myself. He seems happy with the arrangement. If he seems to be out of money, I give him five dollars, or whatever seems appropriate barb