Some parents in New York have expressed concerns after photos a father posted of his son’s paltry school lunches went viral on social media.
The parent, Chris Vangellow, took it upon himself to share photos of the lunches that were provided by the Parishville-Hopkin Central School District in upstate New York, about 10 miles east of Potsdam, claiming that it “was failing students with such unappetizing food.”
One of the meals in question that made the rounds on social media included four dry, shriveled chicken strips, dried-out carrots, white rice, and a small carton of fat-free chocolate milk.
“I think the Parishville School Lunches might be a bit lacking a bit. even for a kid that isn't 6'5 like Ash,' Vangellow wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, Jan. 12. “If this was a game day I don't think any of the team would be getting enough energy from something like this."
Vangellow said that one child didn’t even have “dry tasteless carrots” available, and opted out of the rice “because that is not very appetizing either.”
“They have been complaining that since the lunches are now free for everyone, the portions have dropped,” he continued. “It is really ridiculous.
“Don’t come at me with the ‘you get what you pay for’ or ‘just send them with food crap either,” Vangellow added. “Yeah we can do that and sometimes the kids do choose to bring something from home or will buy extra lunch to get more in them to get them through a day.”
Vangellow went on to note that while that is an option for some, bringing lunch each day or purchasing extra food is not an option for all students or families.
“We don’t live in a very rich area,” he stated. “Some kids may not get much or anything when at home and this is what they have to survive one. They rely on the meals that schools provide. This is what they get those.
“In my opinion, this is failing those kids.”
In response to Vangellow’s outing of the district, Superintendent of Schools William Collins conceded that many students and parents have been dissatisfied with their school lunches.
Collins said that he and the district’s Cafeteria Manager will be creating a group to address that dissatisfaction that will include four students, four parents, and a representative from the Wellness Committee.
“This group will explore ways to make school meals more appetizing while still meeting the strict USDA requirements of the National School Lunch Program,” he noted.
“The concerns expressed clearly resonated with students and parents as evidenced by the number of comments and shares,” Collins added.
“In fairness to the cafeteria, students are allowed one more serving of fruits or vegetables and one additional nugget than appeared in the photograph; however, this doesn’t alter the message that many students and parents are dissatisfied with school lunches.”
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