BVSD’s efforts to improve school lunches are to be commended, yet the district must make school lunches not only “healthy” but also “cool.” Despite laudable goals and incredible effort, program participation hasn’t reached a sustainable level. The continued social stigma associated with school lunches may hold the key – this stigma is associated both with food quality and also with socio-economic status as related to school lunch consumption. Although a difficult issue to face, school lunch stigma is real. Over the years and due to the historically poor quality of school lunches, lower-income students, through reduced priced lunch programs ultimately became the only regular consumers of school lunches. This, combined with the intensity of adolescent peer influence, has made “school lunch” not “cool.” The remaining stigma is so strong, and peer perception so important, that a recent NYT article reports some reduced-price-eligible students simply don’t eat at school, preferring to go hungry than to be labeled poor. BVSD has notably recognized this pressure, and responded, by no longer segregating lunch lines by payment type. Still, this hasn’t proven enough. Outreach focused on healthy food might convince parents of the program’s incredible strides, but key is reaching kids. Information about healthy foods just isn’t going to persuade adolescents primarily concerned about peer perceptions. As an anecdotal example, I can beg my middle-schooler to buy school lunch, explain the innovative new approach, and talk up the importance of supporting local efforts. He gets it, but in the end, also daily faces a mid-day cafeteria full of peers that want nothing to do with school lunch. Peer pressure is real and it’s strong. In this way, making school lunches not only “healthy” but also “cool” will aid both students on reduced price lunches and other students working to support BVSDs new lunch initiatives.