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Parents express concerns about RUSD school lunches, district responds

Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-09 19:15:24-04

Leah Nilo opened her cold lunch earlier this week and quickly decided she wouldn't be eating most of it.

"I was just in shock," said Leah. "Because that was probably the worst thing I've ever seen us get so far."

In a video that's now drawn great attention on TikTok and Facebook, Leah dissects the meal in the school cafeteria, lifting up a piece of cheese that leaves a milky residue on a handful of baby carrots.

The eighth grade student at Gifford School, part of the Racine Unified School District (RUSD), told TMJ4 News this isn't the first time she's skipped a hot or cold lunch. But it seems this limp piece of cheddar, or some kind of cheese, has galvanized concerns among far more people in the community.

Criticism of her lunch in the video flooded in quickly.

"I get it that they [RUSD staff] are getting less time to cook the food but both meals were unacceptable," said one parent.

"Every one on here needs to call RUSD and lodge formal complaints. Our children deserve better," said another.

The rest of the meal included apple slices, pretzel Goldfish crackers and a choice of milk. All of the district's menus are listed online.

In a post Friday on Facebook, RUSD responded to the meal:

"Supply chain issues have been a huge challenge for school lunches here in RUSD and across the country. But we clearly missed the mark with the lunch served this Wednesday. We are working to correct it going forward. Thank you (all of you) who brought concerns to our attention."

The post also included the hashtags #SayCheese and #WheresTheBeef.

The district told TMJ4 the hashtags were an attempt at humor, as if to say, we're human. But they now admit that was a "poor decision" and they're "listening."

Parents and community members didn't find it funny. "This post is in poor taste RUSD. You do realize that some kids literally only eat what they get at school?" said one commenter.

"The hashtags are disgusting," said another. "Shame on you for making a joke out of some kids only meal for the day."

In addition to supply chain issues, the district also said that school let out early last Wednesday.

The early dismissal, RUSD explained, meant they had to shorten lunch periods, making it more challenging to ensure everyone received breakfast and lunch before they got out.

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