New York

NY Students Served ‘Insensitive' Menu During Black History Month, Again

Last week's incident is not the first time Aramark has provided culturally insensitive choices during Black History Month

Nyack Middle School in Rockland County.
News 4

A middle school in New York found itself in hot water last week after serving an "inexcusably insensitive" menu at the start of Black History Month.

Administrators in Nyack say middle school students were served chicken and waffles, with watermelon as a dessert, last Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month.

The school's principal issued an apology to parents, explaining its food vendor provided a deviation from the listed lunch published on the monthly menu.

"The offering of chicken & 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," Principal David Johnson said.

Menu screenshot of Nyack's lunch for Feb. 1.

"Yesterday's lunch menu should have consisted of Philly cheesesteak, broccoli, and fresh fruit. I am disappointed that Aramark would serve items that differed from the published monthly menu. Especially items that reinforce negative stereotypes concerning the African-American Community."

Aramark, the food vendor, said in a statement the incident "never should have happened."

"We have apologized for our mistake, are working to determine how it happened and make sure it never happens again," the statement said. "Our team at that school should have been more thoughtful in its service."

The company's "inexcusable mistake" echoes one made in 2018 when New York University students were served cornbread, collard greens, Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water, also during Black History Month. Aramark was also the vendor behind that menu and apologized at the time. It said then that two employees had independently decided on that menu.

In 2011, Aramark served chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Day at the University of California, Irvine.

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