A Facebook post featuring a photo of a school lunch has recently gone viral:
Chris Vangellow (New York), a father of four whose children children attend school in the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District, posted the photo. His 16-year-old son had started complaining that he didn't have enough food, so Vangellow had his son start sending him pictures of the school provided lunches.
Below the photo, the comments section went wild:
One user wrote--
"I cooked for toddlers at Daycare for a couple years and this is toddler portions."
Another user, who works for the school, wrote--
"It has nothing to do with the school, the portions are regulated. I work in a school, it’s 2oz protein, 2oz grain, 1/2 c fruit, 1/2c veg for elementary and middle school kids. High school is a little more. It has nothing to do with the school and/or their budget."
In an interview, Vangellow stated:
"He started complaining that lunch was ‘not enough. One of my other kids also sent me the same picture, and I knew they had a game coming up. I was thinking, ‘If there’s kids playing basketball, this is not enough for him...They have been complaining that since the lunches are now free for everyone, the portions have dropped."
The Superintendent, William E. Collins, shared a message on Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District’s website:
"This week a concerned parent’s Facebook post about Parishville-Hopkinton school lunches went viral. The concerns expressed clearly resonated with students and parents as evidenced by the number of comments and shares. We fall under the same nutritional guidelines as every public school in the nation, so there are limitations on just how varied school lunches can be from one school to another. 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."
Additionally, Collins added that
"Students are allowed one more serving of fruits or vegetables... also allowed one additional nugget than the amount seen in Vangellow’s son’s photo...however, this doesn’t alter the message that many students and parents are dissatisfied with school lunches."
As a result of the viral post, Collins has announced that he will work with the cafeteria manager, as well as a student and parent group, as part of a wellness committee to "make lunches more appetizing 'while still meeting the strict USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] requirements of the National School Lunch Program' and without increasing costs." The group dedicated to improving the districts' school lunches is called Reimagining School Lunches, which Vangellow and his son joined.
Thankfully, local farmers are stepping up, expressing interest in providing farm fresh produce for the students within their area. Staff and students are also volunteering time and labor to renovate the courtyard to an outdoor learning space with raised growing beds. Additionally, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an estimated $750 million is being added to school meal programs across the country in 2022. Here's hoping we see some change!