FARMINGTON, Conn. – Farmington High School students will boycott their school lunch program over complaints about food quality, portion size, and the school’s practice of dumping lunches in the trash when students can’t pay up.
Student Sarah White created a Chartwells Boycott Facebook page that’s already gained support from more than 400 students committed to boycotting school lunches next week. Chartwells operates the school’s cafeteria services, NBC reports.
White told the news site a cafeteria worker dumped her food in the trash recently when she didn’t have money in her lunch account.
“I was told I didn’t have enough money left in my account to charge it and they threw it out in front of me,” she said.
The episode, combined with issues with food quality, portion size, and other issues, convinced her to take action.
“That’s what everybody does … in history class you hear about Rosa Parks and that sort of thing,” White said.
Everyone NBC spoke with said the school’s food is terrible.
“The food is not even cooked. I know some people who have gotten food poisoning. There’s mold in it,” student Rachel White said.
“It’s really disappointing to not have any other options other than that kind of food,” another student, Christie Rosario, told NBC.
Others detailed their horror stories and posted pictures of their lunch slop on the Facebook boycott page.
“I’m glad to hear that this is on people’s radar,” parent Kate Hamilton Moser posted. “I saw a lot of disturbing things last year when I would have lunch with my son.”
Poster Daniel Jollygoodshow Ha, a student, posted a picture of his lunch food, an indistinguishable yellowy slop with what appears to be some sort of biscuit on the side.
“It’s surprising, or actually not that surprising, that you’re holding the plate almost vertically, and the food is still stuck to the plate,” Dmytro Kusen said Daniel Jollygoodshow Ha’s lunch.
Alexandra Rumpf posted a shot of her lunch Wednesday, which consisted of brown noodles and some sort of brown meat.
“These pictures are disgusting,” Beth Potter Andrews wrote. “Prisoners eat better than you guys.”
“My FHS student has found mold in her food and has been served rotten fruit,” parent Patricia Russell Donelan posted to the Farmington Patch Facebook Page, according to the Patch. “She also has witnessed staff throwing food away because of lack of funds. I heard not one complaint from my kids before this service was put in place.”
Parent Amy Case Rosenfield posted on the same site that she believes the school’s lunch policies are getting out of hand.
“They told my daughter to throw her yogurt out because she was out of funds, my daughter who has type one diabetes,” she wrote.
Farmington school officials released a statement about “favorable participation levels” in the lunch program, and how Chartwells “strives to continuously enhance” school food, and vowed to meet with concerned students to make things right.
They also told NBC they are reviewing their unpaid lunch policy.
“Again, we deeply respect our students’ opinions and honor the dignity of every student in our schools,” Superintendent Kathleen Greider said.
“In turn, FHS administration and Chartwells are working closely with the group of student that expressed concern and we are investigating the issue highlighted in your broadcast on the procedure followed by Chartwells at FHS when unpaid lunch balances exceeded the district’s established level.”
Chartwells took over the school’s food service about three years ago, around the same time changes in the federal school lunch program championed by First Lady Michelle Obama began affecting schools.
The federal lunch edicts dictate acceptable levels of fat, sodium, whole grains, meat, and lots of other things. As a result, school districts across the country have struggled to comply with the stringent requirements, and many – after experiencing deep declines in lunch sales – have opted to forego federal lunch funding to serve students food they’ll actually eat.
Meanwhile, students in many schools are dumping their mandatory fruits and vegetables in the garbage, leading to $1 billion per year in waste.
The federal school food standards also expanded this year to a la carte and vending items sold in schools, which has only created more problems with declining sales and school fundraisers.
Greider told NBC the district “works closely with Chartwells to provide healthy, nutritious and appealing meals to students that meet national dietary guidelines,” though it’s unclear how the federal school food laws played into its problems.
Connecticut students aren’t the only ones in revolt:
Michele Obama needs to stop changing our school lunch to stuff she loves… pic.twitter.com/sio9ir1jGF
— justin.☯ (@JPatt3510) October 29, 2014
Thanks for the crap lunch Michelle Obama pic.twitter.com/9kTv9xyTFU
— Christian Cathey (@ctcathey12) October 24, 2014