High Schoolers Taking Initiative to Improve School Lunch

Students at a Chicago public high school are making their voices heard
School Lunch

Student website shows pictures of unappetizing school lunches, showing spoiled produce and questionable meat.

Rather than resigning to accept the way things were, a group of students at Roosevelt High School in Chicago decided to fight for what they deserve. These students are calling for higher quality and healthier food to be served in their cafeteria, according to The Huffington Post. Student Jacquez Conwell says, “We want our school to be better. It’s not fair for us kids, us teenagers, to go through the day where we’re not satisfied. And if we’re not satisfied, we’re not learning anything and we’re not focused.”

The School Lunch Project began as a project in a civics class taught by Tim Meegan, where the students created a website explaining the project and featuring photos submitted by students of the unappetizing lunches. The photos show spoiled produce, still-frozen prepackaged fruit cups, and questionable meat. A post on the homepage shows a photo of a burger patty served at the school with a foreign piece of plastic. The caption reads, “Aramark hamburgers exceed the USDA recommendations for blue plastic in their beef patties.”

Aramark is the foodservice corporation that currently serves Roosevelt High School and other schools in the same district. It was awarded the district’s $97 million per year catering contract in 2013 and also holds a $260 contract covering custodial duties.

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On Tuesday, a meeting with Meegan, a group of students, and officials representing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Aramark left mixed reactions for students, who are “cautiously optimistic.” The CPS and Aramark officials asked students to monitor meals and report back with any issues, and invited the students to choose five students for a Student Dining Committee to taste test and evaluate new foods. The students expressed frustration with the amount of time it would take for new items to be incorporated (three months) and the fact that their concerns with food quality went ignored.