NEW YORK – Advocates are struggling to get students to eat “healthy” lunches – even if they’re free.
It’s not too hard to see why. Timothy Martinez qualifies for free lunches, but he and his classmates often skip meals and go hungry because the cafeteria food at Bronx Academy of Letters is inedible, according to DNAinfo.
“When they serve us pizza, sometimes it’s not reheated all the way and you can see the frozen pieces in the dough,” Martinez says. “It’s the same thing with the taco meat. And they serve us ices instead of juice,” referring to the liquids still being frozen.
“There’s not much taste to them,” another student, Justin Minaya, says of the sweet potato fries.
“The chicken looks too greasy. It’s just frozen food that’s been reheated. It’s not appetizing.”
For these students, it usually means a free school meal or going hungry. More often, they’re choosing the latter.
“What they are provided with is unappetizing and unsatisfying,” Sarah Camiscoli, a teacher at the school, says. “There is much more effort [on the DOE’s part] put into thinking about fine tuning the logistics of state exams rather than the logistics of nutritional needs of students on free lunch.”
As more fresh fruits and vegetables are being introduced into school lunches, students are reporting that they’re finding more unintended protein in the items.
Raven Nolan posted this photo, thanking First Lady Michelle Obama, the champion of the “healthy” lunch rules:
— Raven Nolan (@skye5197) February 9, 2015
Meanwhile, Rachel Owens posted this photo, which likely came from Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Indiana:
— Rachel Owens (@rachel_owens72) February 10, 2015
And another student posted this in November:
shoutout to this bug lexie just found in her salad.. school lunch rox:) pic.twitter.com/4A0FMMRaOa
— cynth (@_cynthiajames) November 5, 2014
And this my friends is why we don't eat school lunch. Bug in the salad. pic.twitter.com/4FtVVwEkbZ
— sky (@S_Rawlings) September 23, 2014
Literally just found a huge bug in @JoolieJerry's broccoli at lunch…officially done with school lunch pic.twitter.com/Z9XlWeObCM
— Cecilia Hardy (@Da_Real_Ceil) May 1, 2013
Back in New York, school administrators defend the “healthy” lunches.
“Issues of school lunch are important to students across the U.S.,” says Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, principal of the Bronx Academy of Letters, according to DNAinfo. “It’s exciting to see our students talking about food in a community that is often under-resourced.”
“We are proud of our work to bring healthy and delicious food options to schools across the city and look forward to continuing to improve these options,” city department of education spokesman Harry Hartfield tells the news site.