The sixth through eighth grade students at Robert Fulton School in North Bergen indulge by going out to lunch. Since the school is located at 7407 Hudson Ave., one block from Broadway, local businesses offer specials ranging from $1.50 to $4.50 to encourage the kids to eat there.
The school includes grades one through eight, but only allows sixth to eighth graders to take “open lunch.” This policy was instituted in September of 2011 when Principal Noreen Garcia took over. Before that, the fifth graders could leave as well.
The “open lunch” students eat between 11:40 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. To ensure that they get back in time, two security guards patrol Broadway.
“All I do is walk the beat up and down the block,” said Security Guard Barbara Martin last week.
The local restaurants offer everything from chicken nuggets to ham and cheese sandwiches. The prices are sometimes higher than a school lunch, but not much: they top out at $4.50.
New Broadway Market at 7301 Broadway, Palermo Ristorante Pizzeria on 7407, New Foliage Chinese Restaurant at 7411, Tony Grocery Fish Market on 7415, MPS Café at 7418, and Cipo Restaurant on 7421 all provide student specials.
“It’s been a tradition for many years for the kids.” – Tom Young
Palermo offers two slices of pizza with a can of soda or water for $4.50. They also offer a slice and fries for $3.
New Foliage Chinese Restaurant has a chicken wing with pork fried rice lunch for $3 and chicken with broccoli for $4.50.
Tony Grocery Fish Market has a dollar menu that offers empanadas and French fries with chicken nuggets.
Ham and cheese sandwiches at Tony Grocery Fish Market are $2. MPS Café has a ham and cheese melt with a soda for $2.75, rice with beans accompanied by meat and soda for $4, and lastly, chicken tenders with a soda are $3.
Cipo Restaurant has empanadas for $1, ham and cheese sandwiches for $2, and chicken sandwiches for $3.
“It’s been a tradition for many years for the kids,” said Tom Young of New Foliage.
Even a new establishment, MPS Café on Broadway offers a special. “We set it up just for the kids,” said co-owner Ismael Perez of MPS Café.
According to Martin, the security guard, the most popular lunches for the students on Broadway are MPS Café, Palermo Ristorante Pizzeria, and New Foliage Chinese Restaurant.
Robert Fulton Principal Noreen Garcia knows how convenient it is for students to be able to have inexpensive lunches outside of the school.
“It’s affordable and that’s important,” said Principal Garcia. “Anything that can help out in these tough times is great.”
Aside from eating at the businesses, some students walk home for lunch while others stay to eat at the school.
According to Garcia, students are kept within the school to eat in if weather conditions are too severe for them to venture out.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org