Students at Roosevelt High School in Chicago have started a petition in an effort to boycott their school lunches, complaining about both the quality and quantity of food served to them in their public school.
An overwhelming majority of students in the school, 95%, qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program, with low-income minority students making up 94% of the entire student body. As a result, the district decided to make school lunches in almost every cafeteria in the district free for students in an effort to reduce stigma on low-income students and make it easier for kids to get a hot meal.
Despite a belief that the school would see an increase in school lunch consumption, the number of meals eaten dropped by almost 1 million in the first year and over 800,000 in the second, reports Monica Eng for WBEZ.
"The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial" was created by a group of civics students at the school hoping to raise public awareness toward the ongoing daily issues with food served, as well as to gain the support of their 1,400 peers as they push for better menu options, reports Tara Dodrill for The Inquisitr. On December 2, the students began to actively boycott the food they call "disgusting."
The Chicago student lunch boycott petition at MoveOn.org 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."
The petition said that one-sixth of all meals eaten by the students each year are consumed at school, making this an important topic since so many students are beginning to refuse to eat their school lunches.
Student boycott lunch project activist Shirley Hernandez, a junior at the school, said the hope was to gain more nutritious food in larger, more appetizing portions that were at least partly made from scratch.
Other students added that they would like to see fresh fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays, as well as entree options that went beyond hamburgers and pizza. Some even compared the meal options to those served at in Cook County prison, noting that Aramark is the food service provider for both places. The students said that the cafeteria had made meals from scratch in the past and had turned a profit doing so.
In a response to the situation, Aramark said that although they have not received any complaints themselves from staff or students, they are looking into the matter.
Chicago Public Schools began their partnership with Philadelphia-based Aramark food services in 2013.
CPS also released a statement in response to the petition, saying that the health and wellness of their students is very important to them and that they will be looking into the situation.