New York middle school apologizes for Black History-themed lunch given to students
Nyack Middle School and its vendor, Aramark, came under fire for ‘insensitive’ meal for the first day of Black History Month
Nyack Middle School along with its vendor, Aramark, came out with a formal apology due to the offensive lunch given to its students on the first day of Black History Month.
On Feb. 1, the New York middle school student’s entered the cafeteria to a menu that consisted of chicken and waffles for the main course with watermelon for dessert.
David Johnson, principal of the middle school, remarked with regret that “the offering of chicken and waffles as an entree with watermelon as a dessert on the first day of Black History Month was inexcusably insensitive and reflected a lack of understanding of our district’s vision to address racial bias.”
Many students were confused by the meal option, mainly because the menu initially stated that the lunch for that day was chili cheesesteaks. Johnson said the school was unaware of the menu change and would not have given the go-ahead to feed the students, saying they “reinforce negative stereotypes concerning the African-American community.”
The interim superintendent for Nyack Public Schools, James Montesano, told CNN, “It is our hope that this incident on Feb. 1 will be an opportunity to expand collective knowledge — beyond ‘sensitivity training’ — regarding the racialized systems in which we all live; and ultimately work towards undoing the negative impacts of these systems on our students, staff and school community.”
Some parents have requested that the middle school end its contract with Aramark.
Aramark came out with a statement that said the menu was not changed intentionally because of Black History Month.
“We apologize for the unintentional insensitivity shown on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month. While our menu was not intended as a cultural meal, we acknowledge that the timing was inappropriate, and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service. This was a mistake and does not represent the values of our company, and we are committed to doing better in the future. We will be partnering with the district so employees who work in the schools participate in training that aligns to the Nyack School District’s vision and commitment to equity-driven work. We believe this will provide a good learning opportunity to deepen understanding on the impact of systemic biases and negative stereotypes concerning the African-American community.”
However, this is not the first time Aramark has come under fire for offending people in the Black community. New York University students complained to the college in 2018 when they served the students a Black History-themed meal that consisted of ribs, collard greens, cornbread, smashed yams, mac and cheese and two beverages, red Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water.
NYU ended its business with Aramark following the incident.