May 20


CEC 18 Guest Speaker Addresses Inedible Eats At Public Schools

May 20, 2022

School food, as captured by one students’ social media. Office of School&Nutrition Services Wendy Mota

Some food for thought was served up at School District 18’s Community Education Council’s (CEC) virtual meeting on Monday, May 9th.  A speaker from the Office of Food & Nutrition Services provided feedback on the updated culinary “delights” doled out at public schools.

The agency’s District 18 Supervisor Wendy Mota reviewed a melange of standardized menus available to thousands of New York City children, including updated federal meal requirements. Standardized recipes are mandated to include whole grains, low-fat and high-fiber foods. Mota provided a positive image of “Meatless Mondays,” “Local Thursdays” and Mayor Eric Adams’ contributory theme – “Vegan Fridays.” The official noted that fresh fruits and veggies will continue to be major players in the daily meals that follow nutrition standards and daily intake values for children in different grades/ages.

Despite the fact that students themselves participate in the taste testing process, some schools have received negative media attention – showing an unsavory side of what kids actually consume at their individual schools.

The representative was questioned about an article in the New York Post from May 1, 2022, entitled “Lunches at NYC school put Fyre Festival to shame: ‘Tastes as bad as it looks.’”  The expose showcased bland and unappealing images of food served to children in a Queens public school. The anonymous student, who  garnered over 500 followers from only a dozen posts,  uploaded the grotesque photos to his or her social media account.

“I saw the article and wasn’t pleased with what was posted. It was pretty unappetizing,” Mota said. “Fortunately, the cook at that school is going to undergo food prep training again. We don’t want our parents to think that those images represent what our students eat.”

Recipe Development Menu Chef Emily Logan jumped in on the concerns, addressing the Post’s revealing story, saying, “That’s definitely not the quality of food we’re putting out. Even though it was from one school in our city, it’s unacceptable and was taken care of.  We’re keeping a close eye on how our cafeterias operate and will retrain any cooks who demonstrate this kind of service to our children.”

In good news, Mota also said some middle schools and high schools in Canarsie will see modernized cafeterias and lunchrooms that are more “independent” and allow students to take advantage of grab-and-go meals. This is part of the “Cafeteria Enhancement Experience” initiative.

“Instead of waiting in line to be served, these new modernized cafeterias will have an adult feel. They can chose from salad bars, pre-packed nutritious meals and fresh cut produce,” the representative said.

Over 60 modernized lunchrooms in the district will also include new furniture with comfortable tables and chairs.

Experts also said menus will cater to different Islamic selections – including halal meals.

“We have certified halal sites in our cafeterias,” Mota said. “All of the items have been reviewed and identified as halal and have an “H” on the menu as well as next to those foods in the lunchrooms to indicate they are halal.”

The CEC board is in need of more parent members, as there are vacancies for this volunteer position. Parents who apply must have a student attending District 18 schools and fill out screening eligibility forms through the CEC that are processed by the Department of Education before they are nominated and voted into their respective roles on the board.

The next District 18 CEC meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 6th. The board and its administration have been juggling the idea of returning to fully in-person meetings but have yet to host a session at their District Office in Canarsie. Please call 718-566-6011 for more information.

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