Vendor apologizes for school lunch served on first day of Black History Month

Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 2:24 PM CST
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ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. (WABC) - A food vendor is apologizing for what it calls an unintentional and insensitive mistake.

The situation in question involved food selections served on the first day of Black History Month at a New York middle school.

“They were asking people if they wanted watermelon, and I was very confused because watermelon really isn’t in season,” said sixth-grade student Honore Santiago.

Watermelon was reportedly on the school’s menu that day, along with chicken and waffles.

“I didn’t really think the school, or the company was capable of doing that and just making the kids, like, feel bad,” Santiago said.

According to Nyack Public Schools, an outside vendor, Aramark, planned to serve cheesesteaks on Feb. 1, as seen in a February menu preview. However, an earlier menu also listed chicken and waffles as a meal that day.

“The chicken and waffles and watermelon are stereotypes,” said Nyack NAACP President Nicole Hines.

School officials blamed a change in leadership at Aramark for the mix-up in menus.

The middle school sent a letter to parents saying, “We are extremely disappointed by this regrettable situation and apologize to the entire Nyack community for the cultural insensitivity displayed by our food service provider.”

“We have met with Aramark. I am encouraged they have expressed an interest in working and participating in the training that we do,” said James Montesano, interim superintendent of Nyack Schools

Aramark released a statement saying, “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.”

School officials said going forward, they will scrutinize the menus.

“I hope they learn from their mistakes,” Santiago said.