A father in upstate New York went viral this week after he posted photos of the meager school lunches that his high school-age children were receiving.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, Potsdam, New York, father of four Christopher Vangellow shared a photo of a school lunch that his 16-year-old son received at the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District. The lunch is comprised of four small chicken tenders, a small portion of plain white rice, a few baby carrots, and a carton of chocolate milk, with two packets of ketchup and a small cup of barbecue sauce.
“I think the Parishville School Lunches might be a bit lacking … (E)ven for a kid that isn’t 6’5 like Ash. If this was a game day I don’t think any of the team would be getting enough energy from something like this,” Vangellow wrote. Vangellow said that one of his other children told him that he did not even see any of the “dry tasteless carrots” available at all. The other child also refused the side of rice.
“They have been complaining that since the lunches are now free for everyone, the portions have dropped,” Vangellow said.
Vangellow also defended himself from the knee-jerk criticism that dissatisfied parents should provide their children with food from home or give them money to buy more. “Don’t come at me with the ‘you get what you pay for’ or ‘just send them with food’ crap either,” he wrote. “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. The problem is that not all families can do that.”
“We don’t live in a very rich area. Some kids may not get much or anything when at home and this is what they have to survive on. [They] rely on the meals that the school provides. This is what they get though. In my opinion, this is failing those kids.”
Public School Lunch Photo Shared On Facebook Has Parents Concernedhttps://t.co/xAtscCWplL
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 19, 2022
Additional photos provided by Vangellow to the Daily Caller show other examples of the scant portions given to children in the district: small portions of macaroni and cheese or popcorn chicken, or what appears to be a slice of pizza, with a single breadstick and two or three orange slices or a cup of fruit.
Parishville-Hopkinton Central Superintendent Dr. William E. Collins released a statement on the school district’s website in response to the post.
“This week a concerned parent’s Facebook post about Parishville-Hopkinton school lunches went viral. The concerns expressed clearly resonated with students and parents as evidenced by the number of comments and shares,” Collins wrote. “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.”
Collins then announced that he would be creating a group of parents and students, along with himself and the school’s cafeteria manager, to address concerns about school meals “while still meeting the strict USDA requirements of the National School Lunch Program.”
Schools around the country are struggling to cope with increased demand for school lunches after the U.S. Department of Education extended its free school lunch program through the 2021-2022 school year and expanded it to include 8 more states, covering about 75% of U.S. students. The Daily Wire reported in November that, among other issues, supply chain problems forced at least one school district to send food service workers to local grocery stores and warehouse suppliers to buy food for students. At the same time, two school districts in Ohio have recently struggled to keep up with the number of school meals because of supply chain shortages and staffing issues. The Daily Wire reported:
“The costs have gone up quite substantially,” Parma City School District food and nutrition supervisor Bob Gorman told ABC5 Cleveland. “We’ve had shortages on many items from bread to cereal to certain chicken products.”
“One school may get a chicken patty, one may get chicken nuggets, one may get a chicken finger, one may get a hamburger that day. It’s really been hit or miss menu-wise with what we’re actually serving,” Gorman said.
Nearby Bedford City School District is also having difficulties. In a letter to the parents on Oct. 1, Bedford nutrition supervisor Jennifer Dickson said “the food shortage is beginning to really impact what we are going to be able to serve our children.”…
According to Fox News, the number of meals served by the school district has more than doubled compared to 2020, up from around 20,000 to nearly 50,000. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture extended its free school breakfast and lunch program through the 2021-22 school year.
“As time goes by, the numbers [of meals distributed] are increasing,” Dickson said, but “Our staff is not increasing, unfortunately… we’re using more and more [food]. It’s definitely been a struggle.”
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