15. Lunch Concerns Rise
Feeding yourself nutritious food is crucial for one’s optimum mental health, productivity, and overall stability. Eating healthy is almost even more crucial for children who are still grouting and developing especially when in school. What students eat can play into their overall shot at success in their education, career, and overall future, which is why when concerns were brought up over what the children were eating in the New York City public schools, officials had to get involved.
14. Free Lunch
At the start of the 2017 school year, New York public schools lunches were officially offered to students across the state for free. This was a decision celebrated by many at first because of the many families who were struggling to provide school lunches of their own to children because of financial constraints, many families being low income or already requiring food stamps. This decision seemed the best way to make sure children throughout the school district wouldn’t go hungry and it was backed by senior local government officials. But these free lunches wouldn’t come free for everyone.
13. The Cost of a Free Lunch
With 1.1 million students attending New York public schools, many of those students were already in need of free lunch or assistance from a school lunch program due to them being from a low-income family. Officials claimed that 75 percent of the city’s K-12 students qualified for free or reduced-priced meals as a result of poverty. Passing this new bill into law would grant 200,000 children access lunch free of charge. However, the saying ‘ there is no such thing as a free lunch’ couldn’t be truer for the city of New York because this initiative would cost to NYC of $750 million.
12. New Decision Brings Old Problems
Although this initiative would cost the city and the taxpayers money it would greatly help out struggling communities who would save $300 per child every year, with the full price of a school lunch standing at $1.75 per day. “This is about equity,” Carmen Fariña, the school’s chancellor for the city, told the New York Times newspaper. “All communities matter,” she emphasized. When the decision passed, New York has would now join Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Detroit in offering free lunches to all K-12 students in need. However, unlike the rest of the cities that offer a free lunch program, New York City was by far the largest city on the list and New York City had problems of its own. Some of the past problems that New York City had with its school lunches were not so far in the past, in fact an old issue seemed to rear it’s ugly head once again when passing this initiative.
11. Shocking Photos
A few months into the school year after the initiative had passed in September, it seemed that some concerns of the past were coming back that March and parents were shocked. Photos of moldy pizza, metal chunks, and nails inside chicken meals, were brought to light by Marcia Kramer, a reporter at CBS2 network. It was these shocking snapshots that brought back a spotlight upon the New York City Department of Education, and people had questions.
10. Scary Incidents
These shocking photos were not the issue. Many reports across the school district of children getting sick or getting hurt from their lunches made headlines. Reports emerged from between February 17 and March 13, 2017, regarding unedible pizza served in schools across New York. Even worse, bones were found in chicken four times in September 2016, and one student had to have the Helmick maneuver performed on them after chocking on one of the bones. Things were getting out of hand and people were demanding change.
9. Up The Food Chain
When the department of education where approached with reports of the shocking incidences and the grotesque images of the food being served, the issues seemed to go unnoticed and nothing was getting done. This is when Kramer decided to take action and took her evidence to lawyer Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate. “This is just alarming,” James told CBS2 when presented with the shocking photographic evidence in late March 2017. “This mold and this metal in the chicken nuggets is alarming and disturbing,” she added. Enough was enough.
8. Dangerous Lunches
“We need to suspend these contracts immediately,” James continued, telling Kramer, “We need to get to the bottom of this.” Many schools across the city came out defending their free lunch program claiming that there was no proof that these lunches were bad and that those photos could not have been from their schools. But then more incidents across the district began to take place with a student in the Bronx finding chunks of metal in their popcorn chicken lunch. Even worse when five second-grade students in Brooklyn became extremely sick directly after consuming their school lunches. There was no longer a way to deny the school lunch problem. It was everywhere.
7. Bad Chicken
The food poisoning incidents concerning bad chicken kept popping up around the city. Then a shocking leaked email was handed over to CBS2 and it exposed education officials who were told to stop the consumption of 2,000-plus cases of popcorn chicken, and other items of food that still went out to be served to hundreds of thousands of students across the school district. Concerns parents and students were seemingly without hope.
6. Incidents on The Rise
When a flood of incidents came up where students seemed to have fallen sick after eating spoiled school lunch sandwiches, an NYC Department of education representative had informed CBS2 that the alleged toxic sandwiches were still being served and wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. “There are no indications that the symptoms were the result of food eaten during lunch,” they told Marcia Kramer, adding, “We are looking into it and providing additional support to the school.” However, just when officials thought they had calmed the storm, more damning evidence of toxic lunches emerged, and people were appalled.
5. Mold, Snakes, and Worms
In the winter of 2016, images leaked of a salami-and-cheese sandwich with what appeared to be filled with moldy meat. If that wasn’t bad enough, more images were leaked, exposing a moldy egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich. Unfortunately, the moldy sandwiches were the least grotesque out of all the reports that later came out. CBS2 has been informed of curdled chocolate milk and a beef burger that contained a long pinkish worm. Even the seemingly healthy fruit cups were filled with strange pieces of plastic. But the most shocking incident of them all was a kale salad which was host to a garden snake hiding in its leaves. The New York City lunch program was an absolute laughing stock and disgrace.
4. A Conflict of Interest
Kramer began to dig deeper and find that there was indeed an underlying problem in all this. A conflict of interest was at play here. Kramer’s report broke the news that back in November 2017, a group of officials was in attendance at the National Restaurant Show. But this wasn’t the shocking part. What was shocking was their stay was completely paid for by the company that was going for the contract in the new school lunches initiative to be the main supplier. This was an absolute outrage to the public.
3. Lunchtime Outrage
Public Advocate James was appalled by the free lunch scandal. “It’s an inherent conflict,” she told the CBS2 cameras. “A million-plus children eat in our public schools each and every day, and in some cases, it’s their only food [for that day] and it’s really outrageous.” The fact that a few officals accepted the bribe from the lunch supplier which in turn gave them the contract was stomach churning. The fact that some people could put themselves before the satefy and health of New York City’s schoolchildren had everyone in disbelief.
2. No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
“Clearly, it is unacceptable,” James continued. “The number-one rule is you cannot accept gifts from the people you are doing business with.” Things got even more sticky when another report exposed four officials from the department of education had accepted free trips around the country from the same contractors who got the deal. James said, “I’m calling upon the chancellor – Chancellor Carmen Fariña – to overhaul this particular unit, to immediately suspend these individuals, and to put in place some standards and some oversight.” Things needed to change and fast.
1. The Food Fight Continues
Unfortunately, the food fight still rages on between the department of education officials and those who are being directly effected by the spoiled school lunches. Until greedy individuals in office can set aside their personal stakes in this matter, it seems that the children and parents across the district rely on those who are willing to speak up for what is right.