CHICAGO – Students at a Northwest Side high school say they will boycott their cafeteria’s lunches if the quality of the food doesn’t improve.
A website launched by students at Chicago’s Roosevelt High School in Albany Park claims that the food provided to the school by Aramark is not fit for eating. The site calls for an overhaul of the lunch system. Students also created a MoveOn.org petition to improve school lunch.
A page of the website, titled “The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial,” claims the following:
At Roosevelt High School they constantly rotate either hamburger, chicken patty or pizza. Every once in a while they’ll add a veggie burger, quesadilla, or nachos but they are not appetizing. Other schools have more options. We remember Michelle Obama wanting to get CPS students to eat healthy. What we are eating is not healthy; sometime it’s exasperating. Lunch time is the time where you eat and enjoy your free time. It’s supposed to be the place where students get the best healthy lunches like salads, sandwiches, fresh fruits, etc. Instead they give some gross, unhealthy food. There is no variety, and the only thing to drink every day is milk or water. We want greater variety in our lunch options.
Another portion of the site says the lunches provided to them is no better than that of prison food.
“Today, our lunch at Roosevelt is no better than the ones in Cook County prison. In fact Aramark is the food service provider for both institutions,” the website reads.
Various students snapped pictures of their lunches and shared them on the site and on social media.
According to WBEZ, upperclassmen plan to begin lunch boycotts Thursday and Friday, and hope to make the boycott schoolwide by Monday.
Aramark told WBEZ that it is aware of the website but that the company had not heard complaints listed on the site from staff or students directly.
Among the other complaints students have is perceived “corruption” that exists in the deal between CPS and Aramark , and that the corporation does not have the students’ best interests in mind, only business interests.
CPS and Aramark get a $3.15 federal payment (that they share) for each school lunch a student takes, so thousands of students brown-bagging it for even a day could cost them several thousand dollars.
According to multiple reports, Chicago Public Schools partnered with Aramark two years ago when the district shifted to offering free meals to all students at most campuses.
Students provided a list of proposals on the site, including a call for juniors and seniors to be allowed to leave campus for lunch, and the ability for students to have food delivered.
CPS told WBEZ it is looking into the students’ complaints.