About The Lunch Project

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Actual Aramark school lunch at Roosevelt High School in Chicago, IL  Photo Credit: Jasmine Castillo

This site is created and maintained by Roosevelt High School Civics students in Chicago, IL.  In Civics we are working on project based learning.  We brainstormed a list of potential issues to work on, narrowed the list to three, and finally voted to work on improving school lunch.

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Aramark hamburgers exceed the USDA recommendations for blue plastic in their beef patties.  Photo Credit: Duyen Ho

Today lunch is produced by Aramark, a multi-million dollar corporation that provides food service, uniforms, and janitorial services to institutions like schools, hospitals, ballparks, and prisons.  But it didn’t used to be that way:

Before privatization of lunch, our school cafeteria served the community at large and turned a profit for the school.  We learned that Aramark is a company with a laundry list of corruption and scandals a mile long.  They may not know how to keep us happy, but they certainly keep their investors happy.

twitter

http://www.barrons.com/articles/sleeker-aramark-could-see-shares-rise-20-1441434637

Source: Aramark Twitter feed, 9/8/15.  Accessed 10/6/15

70 thoughts on “About The Lunch Project

  1. This company is asking principals to give positive testament to their food service. Be aware of that a they may be doing this because of your work. This Co. Also got in some kind of mess with the way they got this Co tract with cps. The cps IG may have been involved. Your work is impressive.

    Liked by 3 people

    • you should contact the British Chef, Jamie Oliver. He did a documentary on school food in the US (like the one he did in Britton). He got run out of the Los Angeles School district….Big money, cronyism and payoffs to school administrators were a huge problem. I bet he could REALLY help your cause….check it out and keep up the good work!

      Like

  2. You should know that Aramark is asking principals for positive testimonials about their food service. Check CPS inspector general to see how they got this contract.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you given any thought to a “gallery of school lunches” photo feature page? Students from schools across CPS could snap photos of their lunch and submit them to you. It would be interesting to see just how disgusting the lunches across Chicago actually are. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work, everyone! I am a principal at Oglesby, and our food is gross, too. I keep apples and granola bars in my office because so many of my babies won’t eat the Aramark food products. I say product because I really don’t believe it is real food!

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  5. You kids should start an Instagram page with these images! Also- I would love to work towards getting Aramark catering out and instituting healthy, delicious meal plans for Chicago students. I want to help!- Lorna, Culinary Instructor for Whole Foods

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  6. BRAVO – I can’t think of a better use of a CPS civics class than this website and cause!

    You and your teachers should explore the campaign donations from Aramark to the Democratic party over the last two elections, I’ll make this a little easy for you, but its in your best interests to confirm this information independently.

    http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/committees/aramark-political-action-committee-aramark-pac-fka-ara-pac.asp?cycle=08

    Generally organizations that donate money to candidates hope to get something back in return. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this press release from Aramark from 2010.

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100209007159/en/ARAMARK-Joins-Lady-Michelle-Obama-Campaign-Childhood

    February 09, 2010 04:35 PM Eastern Standard Time

    PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ARAMARK, a leading provider of food and nutrition services to more than 3,000 K-12 schools nationwide, is proud to join First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama in her Let’s Move (www.letsmove.gov) campaign announced today, to reduce childhood obesity and make the nation’s schools models for healthier living.

    [.]

    Voting for a candidate just because s/he’s from your hometown, might look like you, or would be historic are not valid reasons to vote for someone. Voting for a candidate oftentimes has consequences. Something to keep in mind as I suspect some of you will be voting in the next election.

    Now I’m not saying next election you or your parents shouldn’t vote for Clinton, Sanders, or Trump, Donald Duck, or Deez Nuts, But you should learn about the candidate, who they’re getting their money from, which SuperPAC’s are donating, what special interest they are looking out for, and who can gain the most from it when they are eventually elected.

    I hope you all the best of luck with getting the proposals you want, and the change of vendors!

    – RM

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    • Aramark, according to the information you all posted, is in bed with Michelle Obama’s colossal failed school lunch project. For your parents who voted for this, show them the consequences. The parents and the school should run the lunch program and decide what is best for the students, not some moron at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue whose kids don’t attend public school, don’t live in Chicago, and attend private school with gourmet meals. Pathetic.

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  7. Great job, Roosevelt students! So great to see high school students doing positive things to solve problems. The lunches are terrible. I’d love to not have to make lunch for my first grade student. I’d even pay for it! But I make lunch because I care about his health. We eat healthy at home. It shouldn’t be that hard at school.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi – I’m Bettina Siegel, writer of the national school food blog The Lunch Tray. I also live in an Aramark district – Houston ISD. I’d love to talk to you guys about your efforts to improve CPS school food. If you’re interested in being interviewed, please contact me at bettina at thelunchtray dot com. Thanks!

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  9. Not a student,but you should also demand food without
    -BHT,a proven carcinogen,used as preservative
    -Nitrates and Nitrites,found in processed meat,turns into cancer-causing nitrosamines in body
    -Meat from animals fed antibiotics,which may contain antibiotic resistant bacteria

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  10. I read a Huffington Post article this morning about your school’s food issues. I wish I could say I was surprised or appalled, but before I even clicked the link, one word screamed in my head, “Aramark.” After my college experiences with Aramark and the transition to them by our local community hospital, there is little surprise that they are involved. Also unsurprising is the level of bad that their offering is. In college their business model seemed more than eager to force students up a hierarchy of options. We had a cafeteria, multiple Aramark “brands” of kiosks (pizza, sandwich, coffee type locations with either generic logos and names or school themed) in addition to Aramark run name brands (Quiznos, Chick-fil-A, and Burger King) kiosks. Name brand kiosks were your safest bet, and it went downhill in quality until you arrived at the cafeteria, the worst of the worst. And price wise, it was low at the cafeteria ($3 if I remember correctly) and went up to the name brands. It’s easy as a student in a captive environment, the not realize how bad it is. It was a trip to Canada and a stop at a Quiznos while there that opened my eyes to what Aramark had done. The prices for a sub were identical. They were using Canadian prices in US dollars to price our food on campus. That’s when it clicked, they had no interest in providing a decent cafeteria meal, they were trying to drive us to more expensive choices that they also controlled. Nevermind that we were paying a premium for dining dollars in the first place (again, memory, but I think it was about $1,050 fee for $800 dining credit). Required for all on campus students. And they even controlled the “convenience store” on campus. $10 for a 4pack of toilet paper and $4 for a single cup-a-soup. Every move they made was geared to extort as much money as possible from students. I wouldn’t be surprised if they excitedly conceded to your demands, and offer better choices (that they control) at extreme prices.

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      • I agree, if a student isn’t paying for his meals, then he should not complain about the food. The taxpayer is not a bottomless well of money.

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    • Also we are paying for this shitty food, at least 75% of the student body pays $4 at full price
      There is no better alternative other than to pack lunch

      don’t use the Lord’s name in vain
      also up yours asshole

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    • I really hope you are not a product of the CPS because we are all screwed if you are. We all pay a lot of taxes. Yes you too god. These taxes are sent to Aramark for the food. Even the full price lunch people are getting subsidized. This money, YOUR money is being stolen and garbage is being provided. I am not a student here but I grew up in the neighborhood. I am not a beggar and neither are the students here. My taxes are probably more than what you make in a year and I would like these taxes of mine to buy quality food.

      HASHTAG SUGGESTION: #aramarkfoodsucks
      Try to have the part of your ID that has the school name in the picture

      P.S. If the RHS students need some help with this site, business strategy, or marketing just drop me a line and my company would be more than happy to help you.

      Like

  11. I am trying to leave a reply, please excuse if this is redundant. The young British chef, Jamie Oliver did a documentary on him trying to educate and change the food in the US like the successful one he did in Britain. He was run out of the LA school district as graft and big money have a way of ruling the day. You guys should contact him. I would bet he could really support your cause, since he has already been up against it here…heck he could turn this into another documentary ….Keep up the good work!!

    Like

  12. Kudos to the Roosevelt civics students on this initiative! The quality of food being served to public school students in the U.S. is appalling. Whether students qualify for free or reduced lunch is irrelevant. All young people in this country deserve healthy food during the day that gives them the ability to focus on school work as well as a nutritious start to life. We’re setting kids up for disease and taking away educational opportunity. There are also socioeconomic factors at play. It’s more than a little disturbing that, in many schools, identical “meals” on a given day are served at high schools and prisons. It isn’t okay to give American children rotten fruit, stale bread, food containing plastic and insects, a lack of vegetables, and sodium and fat orders of magnitude above what’s healthy. This is a big issue.

    I fully support the Roosevelt High School students’ boycott of Aramark catering. Even though we’ll be homeschooling our son, as a taxpaying citizen, I demand that American students be given better than what they’re receiving right now. With liberty and nutrition for all! ‪#‎LetsBeHeard‬

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  13. You guys are doing an awesome job representing your opinions wisely and standing up against these big name corporations who are gaining widespread cash flow from your school district for pathetic quality food. You guys are awesome!!! -College Student who thinks you are doing a great job!

    Like

  14. Thanks for taking the time and effort to protest and try to get things changed, school lunch in USA is absolutely deplorable and hardly nutritional. I have many friends from all over the world and never had they said they hated school lunch or had to be subject to this low quality food. I remember I stopped eating school lunch because I had gotten my third chicken sandwich uncooked and inedible. Once we were served nachos, which were actually just a handful of fritos with lettuce on top. Most dishes looked just like the photos above. The price of lunch also went up every year to $4 or so. I’ve lived in NC, AL, NY, and VA and I can confirm all the lunches were equally bad.

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  15. Wow, this can potentially go viral. GET MORE PICS! You guys totes got this and CAN make a difference by standing up for what you deserve. This crap they’re trying to feed you is obviously NOT IT! This makes me so outraged to see, and reading the comments . . . .if there is merit to some of them (and I believe there is) you guys have quite a story on your hands. Good luck to you! Don’t give up!

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  16. Hi, I am a student at Chicago Tech Academy, As us students we also go through he same struggle with such terrible lunches. Their has been many cases were some students have gotten sick and went to the doctors and was caused by the school lunch food (Food poisoning).
    We also even run out of food sometimes, it really crazy and not acceptable. As I speak for the rest of the students of the school, We stand strong with you guys in your support to improve the quality of the food we eat.

    Like

  17. I am a teacher in a middle school in Maryland. I am so proud of what you are doing. Our children are being given food I would not feed my dog. You are our future. Stand up! I wish I could send you lunch so you can continue to boycott. Best of luck-

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  18. You need a better hashtag. The one you are using is already being used by a million other people. You need something unique and clever so other students in the district can use as well. #wouldyoueatmycpslunch
    #mycpslunch

    Like

  19. My heart is made happy to see students and staff united behind something so important. What an amazing teacher, to encourage this kind of activism. I hope you succeed and provide a model for all of us struggling with deplorable lunches in cafeterias around the country. Best of luck to you, from a concerned mom in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Like

  20. Hello!

    We love that you are organizing to call out the role of corporations in controlling school meals. We are Youth for Healthy School a group of students and organization across the country working to improve student health and wellness. We have done a lot of work on school meals and would love to connect with you all. Check out our work at http://www.youthforhealthyschools.com/ please fill free to contact us we would love to support your efforts!

    Like

  21. am all for a good protest but complaining about FREE food when there are thousands of hungry people in Chicago is selfish. Bring your own food if you don’t like it. You get what you pay for….

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      • The food is not FREE. AND Lots of bureaucratic Feeders at the government trough (federal and state employees) are in collusion with this process and care NOTHING about our country’s future (our collective children) If they did, they would want the very ,very BEST for them and care less for the “bottom line” and their own greed. The institutionalised, —-(I can’t even call it food)…Cr–P that Americans eat is Killing us and meant to. Thank God these kids are waking up in the sea of mass hypnosis in which a majority of Americans swim. Good Job Kids…..this is just the tip of the iceberg..

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    • Comeon seriously enough with these ignorant comments. How uneducated are you to keep belittling students that actually get out there and take a stand against something that smells like a bunch of rich people stealing money and screwing over regular people. All of us taxpayers pay a lot of money for this food. Yes you do too Niko. Do you go to the grocery store and grab the ugliest, nastiest, grimy food? No you pick the best. Aramark is pocketing a ton by serving garbage. The CEO of Aramark made $8,055,495 in total compensation in 2012. $33.8 million in 2014.

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  22. You guys should organize up a bit more and walk voter districts. Just put your elected officials out of a job. Going to from door to door asking people to vote for a different candidate will probably attract more attention to your cause.

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  23. You should research into why Armark produces poor quality lunches. They are regulated at the federal level. Armark isn’t the bad guy here, they just happened to win a blind bid offering their services for cheaper than the competition. If standerds of food were raised at a federal level, the companies providing food would be forced to raise their quailty. Great work, keep it up! — from a girl who worked in all food services areas for 15 years

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  24. “Aramark, according to the information you all posted, is in bed with Michelle Obama’s colossal failed school lunch project.”
    Of course they are! The top 1% are trying to dumb down education and part of that is to attack the levels of vitamins and minerals given to children. Aramark should be taken to court for their involvement, and those in the top1% who are ordering companies like them also need to be taken to court.

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  25. In the 1970s school lunches were delicious in every school I attended, from Alabama to Hawaii. That is because they were all “home-made” from scratch at school by cooks in the cafeteria. There were no federal one-size fits all calorie guidelines so we got huge portions too. Yet somehow we were all skinnier back then than kids today.

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  26. Way to stand up for yourselves! As a healthcare professional it pains me to see the awful food you’re receiving. It infuriates me when I see kids eating snack foods and soda at 8am on the bus every morning, but now I have an inkling why–this is the food you’re given to eat! Have you ever seen this website : http://fedupwithlunch.com/? Mrs. Q is a former CPS staff member (I think she was a speech therapist perhaps?). She has received some local attention when she wrote more frequently. You might want to reach out to her for suggestions/history of her actions.

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  27. Greetings from one member of the RHS Class of ’66! Great project, and you already have a lot to be proud of. (Protip: when researching a company, particularly a publicly-traded one, http://www.bloomberg.com and finance.yahoo.com are great places to start; here, see http://finance.yahoo.com/q;_ylc=X1MDMjE0MjQ3ODk0OARfcgMyBGZyA3VoM19maW5hbmNlX3dlYgRmcjIDc2EtZ3AEZ3ByaWQDBG5fZ3BzAzQEb3JpZ2luA2ZpbmFuY2UueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMxBHBxc3RyAwRxdWVyeQNBUk1LLARzYWMDMQRzYW8DMQ–?p=http%3A%2F%2Ffinance.yahoo.com%2Fq%3Fs%3DARMK%26ql%3D0&fr=uh3_finance_web&uhb=uh3_finance_vert&s=ARMK and all the stuff on the left.) OTOH, you’ve already made enough noise that Aramark’s top corporate flack, Karen Cutler, had to get involved. Well done!

    BTW, it wasn’t all great dining back in the day. We could bring our own lunches, and there were some dubious burger joints on Wilson and Kimball that some (read, the greasers) went out to (which was allowed). There wasn’t any multi-billion corporate owner of the cafeteria, and, frankly, I have no idea who owned or ran it. But it wasn’t much more palatable than what you’re getting: we often debated whether there was more oatmeal in the burgers than beef…

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  28. Hey guys – good work. You’re getting the company’s attention and that’s a start. You might want to add some widgets for FB and Pinterest on your site, FB is full of adults who will get really upset about all this and share away. And Pinterest is great for photos of gross food! And if you can start doing some quick video commentaries and posting to YouTube. That kind of thing would go viral really quickly. Adults love to share videos on FB. Also check out change.org. Start a petition and share it out. And while you’re at it start a petition at the White House https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions.

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  29. Email the CEO Directly. He will respond. Keep Emailing him until you get a response. CPS should get a refund on top of better nutrition for students. Aramark is a monopolistic company that cares little for those they serve. Eric-Foss@aramark.com is his Email. Send all your photos and requests to him. CPS Students deserve better. The City of Chicago deserves better.

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  30. You are the future! Hopefully your generation will take better care of the Earth and all it’s ihabitants. Should I live long enough to see you run for office I will certainly vote for you. Keep up the good work.

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  31. Check out the blog “Never Seconds” by Martha Payne. She started it in Scotland 3 years ago about herr primary school lunch. She took photos and then kids from around the world chimed in. She also raised money for school lunches for kids who would usually get no lunch (Mary’s Meals). Your classes might find her perspective and blogging interesting as you pursue improving the food at your school too. Good luck. Everyone deserves a healthy and attractive meal.

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  32. This story was picked up in the national media by Breitbart, but I disagree with the title of “Activist Chicago Public School Teacher Leads Students on School Lunch Revolt” — It *should* be “The high cost of Federal Regulations”

    …The whole situation stems from changes in the federal school lunch rules imposed on the nation’s schools by Michelle Obama. With the new nutritional requirements, paperwork, and costs imposed on the schools by the federal program, the Chicago Schools decided to make all lunches free.

    There were several reasons for the decision, many of them time and cost savers. With past programs, for instance, kids would be given cheaper lunch rates if their families met certain income level requirements. But this meant an avalanche of paperwork and even office time as parents had to fill out forms attesting to their income level, and CPS office workers then had to verify that income claim. This was an ongoing paperwork cycle that would be expensive to fulfill in the long run…

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/27/activist-chicago-public-schools-teacher-leads-students-on-school-lunch-revolt/

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  33. I think the food here at Washington is bad to because they just freeze the food until the next day and if they don’t run out they do the same for te next day.

    Like

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