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RPS parents voice concerns over lack of hot lunches

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:21 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:03 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Just over a week into the new school year, parents sounded off Monday night at the Richmond School Board meeting, upset at the lack of hot lunches, so far this year. Parents also raised concerns over the quality and amount of food being served.

Emily Kavanaugh was one of the parents who voiced her concerns about school lunches during Monday night’s meeting.

She showed the meal served to a Richmond middle school student.

“It was a wheat roll with meat that nobody really knew what it was,” she said. “It had a fruit cup and it had a juice box that’s a half size of a regular juice box.”

Kavanaugh addressed the concerns she and other parents shared about the meals.

“The food was not edible,” Kavanaugh said. “The meals were sometimes not fully dethawed.”

Betsy Milburn’s son keeps her updated on the food menu at his high school. One day, she says lunch consisted of two cheese sticks, a fruit cup, a few strawberries and a juice drink.

Superintendent Jason Kamras said RPS chose not to serve hot meals at the beginning of the year, opting for “grab-and-go” bagged lunches, instead. School leaders were concerned about students crowding in lunch lines for extended periods of time, which could increase the spread of COVID-19.

Kamras also said the staff members are working to fix any other issues. He admits there were some missteps, last week.

There is also a significant employee shortage in RPS’s food service department, according to Kamras. Monday night, the school board also approved an increase in the hourly wage for food and nutrition staffers, to help bring more employees on board with the school district.

RPS is working to transition hot meals, starting with high school students, once everyone gets more acquainted with COVID-19 protocols, he said.

Kavanaugh believes addressing these concerns is a great step forward, but believes more work needs to be done to improve the quality of the food.

“I think that’s a huge stride to have made that update in 48 hours,” Kavanaugh said. “When you’re looking at the hierarchy of need, we have to feed these kids before we can do anything else for them. Nobody can learn on a hungry stomach.”

So far, 72 covid cases have been reported across RPS since class started on September 8. Fifty-nine of those cases were students.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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