In the Courts

Public School Lunch Photo Shared On Facebook Has Parents Concerned

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  • Photos of cafeteria lunches served at an upstate New York public school district have gone viral on Facebook, sparking community outrage.
  • A father posted photos of the lunches provided by his children’s school cafeteria, garnering national attention and frustration among parents concerned about the small portions and quality of the food.
  • “Not everyone can send their child with a home packed lunch or extra money to buy more than what is initially provided,” father Chris Vangellow told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “For some students, those school meals may be all they eat in a day. This is not enough. This is a failure to those children. Something needs to change.”

Photos of cafeteria lunches served at an upstate New York public school district have gone viral on Facebook, sparking community outrage.

A father posted photos of the lunches provided by his children’s school cafeteria, garnering national attention and frustration among parents concerned about the small portions and quality of the food.

All four of Chris Vangellow’s children are students in the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District (PHCSD) in Hopkinton, New York, and they’ve sent him pictures of their school lunches over the past few months.

Vangellow publicly posted a picture of his son’s lunch to his Facebook page on Jan. 12, showing four small chicken nuggets, carrots, rice and a carton of milk. He said when another one of his children went through the lunch line, “he didn’t even see any dry tasteless carrots available.”

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

“The entire point of my post was to bring attention to this issue because some students rely on the school meals to eat each day,” Vangellow told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Not everyone can send their child with a home packed lunch or extra money to buy more than what is initially provided. For some students, those school meals may be all they eat in a day. This is not enough. This is a failure to those children. Something needs to change.”

Vangellow’s children have complained that since the lunches are now free, the portion sizes have dropped, he said on Facebook. “I got this photo today. It really is ridiculous,” he said in the post.

“I cooked for toddlers at Daycare for a couple years and this is toddler portions,” one commenter said.

Another commenter said the portions are regulated and that it “has nothing to do with the school.”

“I work in a school, it’s 2oz protein, 2oz grain, 1/2 c fruit, 1/2c veg for elementary and middle school kids,” another commenter said. “High school is a little more. It has nothing to do with the school and/or their budget.”

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Multiple commenters said prisoners eat higher-quality food and more appropriately-sized portions compared to the school-provided lunch.

“It’s disgusting that prisoners get fed better than children in some school districts do,” one comment said.

“Our prisoners get fed better than our kids in schools and elderly in nursing homes,” another comment said. “THAT’S the problem.”

On Jan. 14, the PHCSD superintendent, Dr. William E. Collins, issued a statement in response to Vangellow’s post, recognizing parents’ concern while defending the cafeteria due to restrictions and rules.

“The concerns expressed clearly resonated with students and parents as evidenced by the number of comments and shares,” the superintendent said. “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.”

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Collins said he was working with the cafeteria manager to “address the dissatisfaction” and announced the creation of a group consisting of concerned students, parents and a representative from the Wellness Committee.

“This group will explore ways to make school meals more appetizing while still meeting the strict USDA requirements of the National School Lunch Program,” Collins said.

The Boards of Cooperative Educational Services organizes the purchase of food services, which limits how varied school lunches can be as a result of “the same nutritional guidelines as every public school in the nation,” Collins told Fox News.

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

Courtesy of Chris Vangellow

“Some of the lunches in the photos are misleading because they show incomplete serving sizes that do not contain all of the choices available to students going through the lunch line; however, it is clear that many students and parents would like to see a change,” the superintendent said.

PHCSD did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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