A middle school in the New York City suburbs is under fire for reportedly serving an "insensitive" meal on the first day of Black History Month — featuring chicken and waffles, with a side of watermelon.
According to a letter issued by Nyack Middle School, the principal has since apologized for the choice of meal on the first school day of February.
In his letter to the Nyack parents, Principal David Johnson said the school was originally scheduled to serve a meal consisting of Philly cheesesteaks, broccoli, and fresh fruit on Feb. 1. But Aramark, citing Johnson's letter, alternatively revised the Nyack menu for that day.
"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," Johnson stated in the letter to parents.
Johnson characterized Aramark's revised menu choices as "insensitive" and pledged to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Also, Johnson wrote that Aramark had agreed to be more "cognizant" about its respective offerings for school lunch menus.
"The situation at that middle school was our mistake and never should have happened," said an Aramark spokesperson, according to WABC-TV in New York. "It stands in direct contrast to who we are as a company and our longstanding commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."
"We have apologized for our mistake, and are working to determine how it happened and make sure it never happens again. We serve millions of meals every day and our team does an excellent job meeting the needs of the communities we serve," the Aramark statement concluded.
There have been other reported transgressions involving Aramark, insensitive racial stereotypes, and school meals from previous years.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2011, Aramark served chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the University of California-Irvine.
And then in 2018, New York University students reportedly demanded the school sever its ties with the food-service giant after Aramark — which has major accounts in numerous U.S. sports arenas and stadiums — served a meal of barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, Kool-Aid, and watermelon-flavored water during Black History Month, according to The New York Times.
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