Chicago Students Boycott Lunch: Roosevelt High School Students Fed Up With Small Portions And Poor Quality Food

Students boycott lunch in Chicago after starting a petition complaining about both the quantity and the quality of the public school food. “The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial” boycott was launched by students at Roosevelt High School. The school is located on the northwest side of the city.

The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial boycott was planned in November by Roosevelt High School civics students. The Chicago students said they are hoping to educate the public about the school lunch issues and mobilize all 1,400 of their peers at the school to demand better nutrition, Yahoo News reports.

“I think it’s especially important for young people in Chicago—where we see so much corruption, cronyism, and nepotism—that they learn how to make change within large organizations,” Roosevelt High School social studies teacher, Tim Meegan, said during an interview with WBEZ earlier this week. “This is just one of many diverse tactics that we are trying to teach young people so they are fully equipped to participate as citizens in a democratic society.”

A total of 95 percent of the students at Roosevelt High School qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. About 94 percent of the student body is comprised of low-income minority students.

“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,” a Chicago student upset about the food quality at the school wrote on the lunch boycott project’s website.

In 2013, the Chicago Public Schools began partnering with the Philadelphia-based Aramark food services company.

An excerpt from the The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial project website follows.

“Prisons only care about one thing when it comes down to meals—that it has enough nutrients for what the human body needs, it doesn’t matter if it tastes or smells bad. One online review of the prison food shows that prisoners get better food from Aramark than we do. For example they have corn muffins, steamed carrots, green beans, also mac and cheese. They also drink Kool-Aid.”

The students involved in the boycott lunch project say they want to be served fruits and vegetables that are not rotten, and entrees that consist of something other than hamburgers and pizza.

Student boycott lunch project activist Shirley Hernandez, a Roosevelt High School junior, told local reporters that the teens want food which is more nutritious, larger portions, and food which is at least partly handmade from scratch.

“It’s a human right to have decent food,” Hernandez added.

The Chicago students maintain that the cafeteria at Roosevelt High School used to serve from scratch healthy meals and made a profit in the process.

Aramark responded to the student boycott lunch project by noting that, while they have not directly received complaints from staff or students at the school, they are looking into the matter. If the student lunch boycott is successful, it could cost both the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Aramark thousands of dollars. The two entities split the $3.15 per meal paid via federal funds — taxpayer dollars.

“The health and wellness of our students is among our top priorities, and we will look into the students’ questions about their meals,” a statement issued by the Chicago Public Schools read.

The Chicago student lunch boycott petition at said that students want to the “urge our principal, the Chicago Board of Education, and Aramark to act now to allow us to open the lunchroom kiosk, have vending machines, off campus lunch, food delivery, and increased options, portion sizes, and quality in our school lunch.”

What do you think about Roosevelt High School boycott and the quantity and quality of food served in public school lunches?

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