CPS Students Plan to Boycott School Lunch: ‘Prisons Get Better Options'

Students at a Chicago Public School plan to boycott school lunches Thursday in an attempt to change the program they say often serves spoiled, soggy or stale food and is no better than meals served at the Cook County Jail.

The boycott call was first posted on a website called “The School Lunch Project: Culinary Denial," a site dedicated to changing the school’s lunch program. The website was created by civics students at Roosevelt High School and calls for lunch reform.

“Whether you go to a neighborhood, charter, or magnet school we should all be treated the same,” the website states. “Food should not be used as a penalty for lower test scores. We feel like second class citizens to CPS.”

Students at the school have said they can't stomach the school's lunches.

"Every time I bite into a patty I'm worried pink sludge will come out," said student Antonio Mendez. 

The group claims fruit cups and milk cartens are often frozen, fruit is being served when it’s spoiled, sandwiches often have stale bread and they are consistently offered pizza or hamburger entrees.

“Prisons get more options we consider to be good,” the website reads. “This is why many students don’t eat the food and starve until they get home.”

Aramark, which makes the school’s lunches, says it serves “high quality, nourishing meals that exceed the nutrition guidelines required by the USDA/National School Lunch Program.”

“We learned about the student project last week via social media and are looking into it with CPS and the principal,” the company said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Aramark said “none of the claims or concerns were brought to our attention directly by any students, parents, teachers or staff members.”

Two years ago, CPS moved to make lunches free for every student, but many Roosevelt High School students say the meals have since become worse. 

“At Chicago Public Schools, the health and wellness of our students is among our top priorities, and we will look into the students' questions about their meals," CPS said in a statement. "Together with Aramark, we are committed to providing our schools with a food program that serves healthy and nutritious meals to all of our students.”

The students have called for the opportunity to go off campus for lunch, the addition of vending machines and a snack kiosk, and significant changes to the lunch options. 

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