In September, the “Free School Lunch for All” program was announced with an aim to offer free lunch to more than a million New York City students every day. Last school year, 75% of students were eligible for free lunch, but starting this school year every student at NYC public schools was made eligible to receive free breakfast and lunch daily.
It was claimed that “free school lunch will provide financial relief to families and ensure all students are receiving nutritious meals so that they can succeed in the classroom and beyond”.
However, when you go through the CBS New York investigations about the safety of food served in NYC public schools, you may just throw up; imagine the plight of the child who is eating the food daily for free.
In March, CBS New York reported finding nails inside chicken fingers, pizza and the egg and cheese sandwiches with green mold, pieces of metal and bones in chicken nuggets, curdled chocolate milk, a long pink/red worm in a beef burger, pieces of plastic inside closed fruit cups, and a garden snake in a kale salad.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room doctor at Northwell Health Lenox Hill Hospital, reacted to the findings with shock:
“This is horrific. This is a significantly dangerous situation. When you ingest meat that is embedded with nails, the objects can perforate your esophagus; your intestine. Oftentimes, we don’t think about the food we’re eating, but often, it’s a very important source of illness – especially in school-age and young children.”
Examples of moldy, expired and discolored school lunches were documented and photographed. The city switched vending companies. The Department of Education assured the chicken will not be served again until the investigation had been completed. However, six months later, children were still being served contaminated food.
In September, a piece of metal was found in popcorn chicken in the Bronx while five second graders in Brooklyn got sick after eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and milk.
CBS New York’s latest investigation shows not much has changed in the system, and the reason is staggering.
Records obtained by Marcia Kramer, a CBS2 political reporter, reveal the Department of Education executives took trips paid by food makers contracted by the city to provide school lunches.
“Records, which the DOE refused to hand over for more than six months, show four executives have traveled all over the country — from Miami and Las Vegas to San Antonio and Los Angeles — paid for by lunch manufacturers and other special interest groups. One of the executives even spent a week in Paris, records show.
“They took nearly $75,000 worth of trips altogether. The reason often given for the travel was for a tour of “manufacturer facilities”. But sources told CBS2 that was just an excuse for wining and dining by companies hungry for a piece of the city’s $750 million school lunch budget.”
Last week, Elijah Silvera, a 3-year-old boy severely allergic to dairy products, died after eating grilled cheese sandwich at his New York City preschool.
Elijah’s school knew and had documented that he had a severe allergy to dairy; still the authorities could not prevent the tragedy.
The DOE knows and has documented that the free lunches served at NYC schools are contaminated; still the authorities are doing nothing to fix their food distribution systems.