Many Farmington High School students are fed up with their school lunch program and hundreds of them are planning to bring their own lunch to school next week in protest.
Chartwells has run the school's cafeteria services for about three years, according to administrators. While the food quality, portion size and price are all concerns students are raising on a Chartwells Boycott Facebook page created to boycott the cafeteria lunches, student Sarah White said there's a policy Chartwells has that she finds humiliating.
“I was told I didn't have enough money left in my account to charge it and they threw it out in front of me," White said.
As a result, students who experience this are going home hungry, according to student Christy Rosario. The dumping of food, which White said has happened to a lot of kids, was the last straw, so she and some peers decided to organize a boycott. Nearly 300 people are signed up to participate in the boycott next week.
“That’s what everybody does…in history class you hear about Rosa Parks and that sort of thing," she said.
Student Rachel White said that it hasn't always been this way with school lunches.
“We used to have a really good lunch program and there were healthy options," she said.
But Rachel White expressed dissatisfaction with the way school lunches are now.
“The food’s not even cooked. I know some people who have gotten food poisoning. There's mold in it.” she said.
“It’s really disappointing to not have any other options other than that kind of food," Rosario said.
Farmington Superintendent Kathleen Greider said in a statement that district officials "deeply respect our students' opinions and honor the dignity of every student that attends the Farmington Schools."
"The Farmington school district works closely with Chartwells to provide healthy, nutritious and appealing meals to students that meet national dietary guidelines," Greider said. "These guidelines changed the year that Chartwells joined the Farmington school district. Even with these changes, we are currently experiencing very favorable participation levels in our lunch program, especially at the high school level. Students are provided a significant number of food options at the high school level and Chartwells strives to continuously enhance these options. In fact, Chartwells sends out periodic surveys to determine strengths, needs and to determine ways to deliver food options that are locally grown, fresh and nutritious."
Students organizing the boycott have met with high school administrators to discuss their concerns and are planning to meet with the school principal and a Chartwells representative later this week to talk about their complaints and requests to improve the school lunch program.
Greider said that administrators at the district values feedback from students and that the Farmington district "serves as a leader in ensuring student voice is a centerpiece of our continuous improvement efforts actross all schools."
"Again, we deeply respect our students’ opinions and honor the dignity of every student in our schools," Greider told NBC Connecticut. "In turn, FHS administration and Chartwells are working closely with the group of students that expressed concern and we are investigating the issue highlighted in your broadcast on the procedure followed by Chartwells at FHS when unpaid lunch balances exceeded the district’s established level."
Chartwells could not be reached immediately for comment.