Students at Farmington High School in Connecticut are boycotting their school lunch program this week, accusing the campus food service provider of serving low-quality meals and embarrassing students who can’t afford them.
Over 500 people have joined a student Facebook group calling for a boycott of Chartwells, the food-service company that replaced the district’s in-house meal program in 2012. The page is full of photos of moldy food allegedly served in the cafeteria, along with some other fairly gross testimonials.
“Freshman are coming in thinking that the garbage they serve and the way they treat us is the norm, but it shouldn’t be,” students wrote in the group’s description. “We can work together and end this now.”
The students drafted a list of demands, including:
• Lower costs per meal for both students and teachers OR larger portions relative to the cost.
• Higher quality food and ingredients.
• Safe and healthy food that is free of mold or hair and is not left out and exposed to cold.
• Limit the reheating and re-serving of leftovers for consecutive days.
• Greater variety to accommodate alternative dietary needs or preferences, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, or others.
Senior Christy Rosario told Boston.com her friends have been frustrated with Chartwells since the company first started working for the district, though the group only recently sprang up to organize the boycott after administrators clamped down on students overcharging their meal accounts.
According to a student handbook available online, students were entitled to charge one meal a day—anywhere from $3 to $3.50—“when lunch money is lost, forgotten or inadvertently overlooked.” That policy was amended to two meals last month without notice to students, though enforcement was lax. After “specific cases of excessive overcharging,” Principal Bill Silva said the school decided to start cracking down.
“A lot of the students were really caught off-guard, really frustrated, and going home hungry,” Rosario said. “The company loses money and the student doesn’t get any food, so no one wins.”
Making matters worse? Hungry kids who couldn’t afford their meals had to watch their food get thrown in the trash. School policy dictates that students with insufficient funds should be provided with an “alternative meal”—a cheese sandwich with milk and a piece of fruit—though Rosario said she knew many who did not receive one.
Superintendent Kathleen Greider said those charges, if true, were “unacceptable.”