Suitland, Maryland (Reform Sasscer) — Many parents throughout Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) District are “disheartened” at their student’s complaints about the food after returning to schools. Most parents are upset and frustrated with the food on their kids’ lunch trays, or lack thereof.. They say their kids’ school breakfast and lunch include bad foods, spoiled produce and chips too spicy to eat.
Lately, however, some parents say lunch items are so bad that, they are inedible.
Photographs posted to the various Facebook group pages showed a school lunch with what appears like a rotten cheese stuck on the plate and another with tangerine that had begun to rot and mold around the stem.
“And this is why I still have to complain and call my congressman. They provide my kids with bad breakfast and lunch…. this is what the school is packing and delivering,” Michelle Thompson wrote. “Yeah ok and I’m not supposed to say anything with this messed food. Parents if you’re home, please talk to your kids and check what foods they are getting in schools and if you’re not please tell your kids to check their food for anything that’s opened or rotten. This was the last fodder for me.”
Other parents chimed in, saying they have had other problems with PGCPS-provided meals. In particular, many complained about messed up food not fit for consumption which their kids could not eat.
“I did complain to the nutrition office about the bad food,” Jeff Gorsuch wrote. “It takes parents calling, emailing, etc., to get it changed. Not sure how much control they have on what is sent to them, though, but I have not seen quite as many since school started back in January (but maybe they just pack his bag with a different flavor since I complained). I just want them to put in 2 days’ worth of milk in the 2-day bags since that is the one thing my special needs kiddo drinks every morning and it definitely helps the grocery budget.”
“Everyone needs to consider two things with looking at this photo. 1. This young man is holding a plate upside down and the FOOD is NOT moving. 2. Would you eat this? It doesn’t matter if this was all that was offered. It doesn’t matter if his mother had the option to pack a lunch or not. What matters is…what we are looking is clearly not fit for human consumption or the consumption of any animal“, wrote Veronica L. Myles.
“I need the ppl making decisions to eat the mess. Then we’ll see soMe changes. Our children deserve better,” wrote Relle Thomas.
“My son says the lunches are absolutely horrible. Lots of mold or rotten food. Such a shame,” wrote Suzanne P Voelker.
“My son won’t eat the HS lunch and my daughter just asked me to buy a bento box so she can take real food to school”, said a pg parent on facebook.
“My son attends Bowie High and hates the school lunch. I was scolded by the front office secretary for bringing him chik fila one day because I was in the area running errands. I had to put her in her place and tell her this wouldn’t be an everyday occurrence, but he was getting that meal that day,” said Stacey Mac
“I have written countless complaints. We must demand more for our students,” said Ama Keisha Trotter Nelson.
Tiffanie Dickerson wrote, “It’s pretty sad what we have received- more than half of it is not even edible. I’m so sick of these bad foods shenanigans.”
“My high school kid doesn’t eat at school either. He takes snacks and buys from the vending machine. That food is free at school but it’s so bad, no one is eating it. I feel for anyone where school lunch is their only meal opportunity,” wrote Jennifer Thorne Whitaker.
PGCPS employee Lucy Mina Roster wrote that, “I work for the school system. Your school itself has no control over what they serve. YOU as the parent are complaining to the wrong people. Talk to Human resources and food and nutrition office. I strongly advise it”.
“This may be an unpopular opinion…but parents have every right to complain. Everyone on this post is a taxpayer, and a portion of your taxes go to the school system. Also, when you pay Federal taxes…that includes things like USDA who set the “nutrition” standards. Without taxes…the government would have NO MONEY. So, as a parent who pays into this system…I and every other concerned parent should be able to voice their opinion. The cost of groceries has increased tremendously. A pound of ground beef is now $10 to $11.00 per lb; lunch meat has increased to $5.00 and $6.00 a pack. Some parents literally can not afford to pack lunch every day of the week. The cost to order Uber eats, Doordash, etc…is astronomical. After paying delivery fees, tips and service fees…a meal that was supposed to cost $6.00 now cost you $20.00. Students aren’t even allowed to receive deliveries at the school. A lot of schools only have maybe two microwaves; so by the time you get a chance to heat up your food…lunch is over. My daughter’s school even had a problem with me dropping off lunch to her because of “safety” concerns,” said Veronica L. Myles, whose grader attends PGCPS system.
“You should be able to be comfortable with where they’re going to school and are they being fed properly,” said Dortson Watson Jr, whose 7th grader attends Martin Luther King Middle School. At the beginning of the school year, Watson’s son wanted to eat the meals supplied in the cafeteria at school, but eventually changed his mind.
“He approached me in the kitchen and said, ‘Can I pack my lunch today?’ and I said, ‘Well yeah, did you not like what you had yesterday?’… And he said ‘No, I had the bread and the chips were stale and it was gross, then I got two bites into my salad and lunch was over.”
Another parent Cheri A. Tyner who recently relocated to Atlanta from PGCPS District but has a home locally responded “yes, parents have a right to complain, but they don’t have a right to demand gourmet meals to their children for school lunch. The price of groceries is not a school issue, that issue should be taken up with the proper authority. Someone mentioned Monica Goldson saying she should be ashamed of what she’s providing students for lunch. Monica does not make the decision about meal prep for school lunches. We’ve spoiled our children into believing that lunch isn’t lunch unless it is hot…public education didn’t just start with the invent of UberEats and DoorDash, parent’s shouldn’t have to deliver lunch to their child, when did bag lunches become a thing of the past?.
Veronica L. Myles who has kids in the PGCPS system responded to Cheri Tyner that, .”...actually you do…that’s what you pay taxes for. If that’s the case, let me forgo paying the portion of my taxes that goes towards the free lunch program and I will take that extra money and do as I please. That’s like when you go to a restaurant…you expect a certain quality of food…because you’re paying for it. Furthermore, it doesn’t have to be gourmet; however it should fit for human consumption and what I’m looking at certainly is not. My dog eats better than this.”
Another parent responded, “that’s the problem. Parents believe that school lunches are supposed to be restaurant quality. It’s not supposed to be. The kids come through the line feeling entitled because mommy said that the food is nasty. You have to understand that we as food service assistant and managers have to follow protocol and procedures. We have to follow recipes to the exact step. If the food requires to seasoned then we use seasoning. If it requires us to not loosen up the Mac and cheese with milk or water then we don’t. Everything is premade upon arrival, we only heat/cool to required temperature. Y’all have to understand that PG county itself don’t have control many times with things like this. It’s Maryland as a state that make the rules”
Jessie Vitale told the other parents “Yup. Take it up with congress. They set the standards and seriously bare minimum standards at that. That’s what I was told. It’s disgusting though to me. It’s not nutritious or filling.”
In many Title 1 schools, several parents on Facebook claim that, due to the effects of the pandemic, they cannot afford to pack their child’s lunch every day. School meals are all free for the time being due to COVID-19 in some places.
Another parent Mkesia Milton Smith shared a photo that his child took at lunch, alarmed at what they were served, “Look at this my son said it was hard too.”
“Are we really gonna act like school lunches have ever really been nutrious? When has nutrition ever been a priority in this country enough that it would be pushed from govt to the cafeteria table. We spend time being appalled like history isn’t evident. And our current congress isnt going to care either…pack their lunch and adress things that are truly actionable. Outrage can be fruitless…this is an example”, wrote K.D. Myles.
“There’s room for error in a lot of things, but when it comes to taking care of children I don’t believe there is room for error,” said Mastina who reached out outraged by the lack of response.
“My son orders Uber eats for lunch. Has it delivered to his teacher, so they won’t say anything,” says the community has made her aware of their concerns.
“It hurts my heart, cause… We don’t want anyone to have a bad experience right off the bat because it’s hard to get those kids back if they have had a bad taste in their mouths,” said Monica Gales.
When seeing the photos, Monica Gales says the meals are “not her expectation” and encourages parents to reach out to CEO Monica Goldson directly with any concerns since she controls the money.
However, Mkesia Milton Smith who started a major public thread about bad cafeteria school foods added that, “well we had a meeting yesterday and was told our kids are not supposed to do that nor staff is suppose to support Uber eats, door dash for the students.”
Another parent raised issues of gang activity at Bowie High school, “how do you like Bowie HS? Specifically for STEM and math? Distractions? Gang activity? ….. that was a loaded question but I don’t know anyone who’s kid goes there and I live in Fairwood,” asked Lohan Leigh.
“I don’t like Bowie. My son started 9th grade in 2020. The administration staff unorganized we need another high school built. My son was in tag 2-8th grade. I haven’t seen or heard of any gang activity, but fights do occur. My son states the teachers don’t really teach they give them busy work on there chrome books. He wishes the taught more. His math teacher he hasnt had any issues. He didn’t get a chemistry teacher until December. I only found out that he had a long term sub because my son told me. No notification from school. I can’t speak on Stem. Just be proactive with the guidance counselor, teachers and you’re kid.
9th graders at the annex, 10-12th in main building,” Stacey Mac said.
Quality Food Evaluation of all foods
Another parent PGCPS parent Arthur Jackson wrote, ….” Who is the Bowie School Board Member ? My cousin is a Former School Board Member in District 6, Belinda Queen she is running for PGC Council in District 6 but she could be helpful in launching a Quality Food Evaluation of all foods in all PGC Schools by establishing a Task force in each school district which must include parents, students and school officials. Our Children deserve healthy, tasty and safe meals.”
“That’s nothing compared to what they serve at ECCs…and they are in the most need for everything in this county and no one ever mentions them. They are babies!!“, wrote Smiley Bell
“Was this all that was offered or just what he selected? I don’t have a kid in highschool but in elementary and they have a lot to choose from. I also went to Bowie and we always had a lot to choose from then but that was 20 years ago,” wrote Nicole Law
“ok so that was my question and the kids are telling me that’s all they are getting …I used to work with pg county schools and the lunches were not bad I use get salad, sandwiches they are telling me there are no choices…”, wrote Mkesia Milton Smith.
“ABC7 Has this non nutritional and questionable Bowie High School luch been reported to ABC7 News Channel? They have been covered issues in the classroom for a while,“wrote Allmondeemomma Brown.
Throughout the back-and-forth with in the various discussions, parents raised a grab bag of issues about their schools, including site-based budgets, parking-lot safety, bullying, gang activity, even dress codes and more.
But towards the end, one mom brought up her teenage daughter’s school lunches, and almost everyone in the room piled on. From schools around the district, they shared complaints about ingredient quality and dietary restrictions. Many said they’d resorted to making lunches for their kids.
PGCPS School Board Chairperson Dr. Juanita Miller had not responded by the time of going to the press. However, Parents should contact their Principal or Director of Nutrition and CEO Dr. Monica Goldson. We will follow up in several weeks to see if there any changes.