Newark Families: ‘This Lunch Sh*t is Not Even Cooked and It’s Cold’

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A lot of kids at school don’t eat lunch because it’s not good. It’s times where it’s so bad you just don’t eat all day. You just wait until you go home.

That’s Ya’Nae Latif, a senior at Newark’s American History High School, commenting on food and utensil shortages in New Jersey’s largest district. It’s not just Newark either, nor is it just New Jersey; across the country, schools are dealing with inabilities to find suppliers for chicken patties, hamburgers, and tuna sandwiches, as well as plates, trays, bags, and bowls to serve them in. According to Chalkbeat, the pandemic created “supply chain hardships and staffing matters,” that interfere with meal preparation. Last month the Newark School Board approved an emergency purchase for prepared meals from a New York supplier at a price tag of $3.9 million, plus another $127K for utensils.

Kids and parents aren’t happy. “The food is horrible,” said parent Liliana Umana, relating how her kids are refusing to eat the cafeteria food and bemoaning that the district doesn’t permit children to bring lunches from home. A fifth-grader said, “Sometimes we get lucky and get the good stuff,” like hot dogs and pizza. “But usually we don’t.” The photo above was posted on Facebook by a Newark student.

Katoyah Williams, the mother of eight children in Newark who attend both district and charter schools, started a petition because, she says,

The food that is served to our children school is highly unacceptable. I’ve spoken with children and parents and this has been a major complaint in our community. The quality of the food has significantly diminished over the years. The quantity of the food has also gone down from the amount it use to be. That is outrageous considering these are growing and maturing children. These children need the proper nutrition to focus throughout the day. Our children are coming home hungry after being in school for almost 8 hours a day. THAT’S NOT OK. 

As a parent ask yourself “Can you work all day on an empty stomach and perform at your greatest potential? I can answer for most of you and go on a limb with the answer of ABSOLUTELY NOT!! If you wasn’t in the know, HUNGRY+ANGRY= HANGRY. Irrational decisions are made when your hungry. On June 18,2016 a study published in the journal Emotion found that hungry people get irrationally angry more often than non-hungry people. We’re probably thinking to ourselves now “How hungry is my child and is this the cause of many things such as outburst or the performance in their school work?” To get better results we have to do something about this. Posting pictures will only have people talking about the problem. Signing this petition will give us a start in tackling this problem head on and coming up with a solution. We are responsible for nurturing their minds and fueling their bodies. Let’s come together and get the issue at hand resolved. Sometimes we can be our own worst critic by staying mute. Let’s use our VOICE AND BE HEARD. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION.

You can see the petition here.

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