A New York public school has apologized for serving an “inexcusably insensitive” meal during Black History Month.
The incident reportedly took place on Feb. 1 at Nyack Middle School, when students were offered a chicken-and-waffles lunch with a side of watermelon. According WABC, the school’s principal, David Johnson, placed the blame on food-service vendor Aramark, claiming the company had changed the hot lunch menu without informing the school. Officials said the original menu for Feb. 1 was Philly cheesesteak, broccoli, and fresh fruit.
“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,” Johnson said in a statement. “I am disappointed that Aramark would serve items that differed from the published monthly menu. Especially items that reinforce negative stereotypes concerning the African-American Community.”
This isn’t the first time Aramark has been accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes. In 2018, New York University cut ties with the company after it included ribs, collard greens, and Kool-Aid on a special menu for Black History Month.
The vendor apologized for the incident at Nyack Middle School, claiming it was not intended to be a “cultural meal.”
“We apologize for the unintentional insensitivity shown on February 1, the first day of Black History Month,” it wrote in a statement. “… We acknowledge that the timing was inappropriate, and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service. This was a mistake and does not represent the values of our company, and we are committed to doing better in the future. We will be partnering with the District so employees who work in the schools participate in training that aligns to the Nyack School District’s vision and commitment to equity-driven work. We believe this will provide a good learning opportunity to deepen understanding on the impact of systemic biases and negative stereotypes concerning the African-American Community.”