Students Testify About Stigma of Eating in BCC Cafeteria

Reposted from Real Food for Kids Montgomery (RFKM), E-News, March 8, 2016

Students Testify About Stigma of Eating in BCC Cafeteria

On February 22, two students from Bethesda Chevy Chase student boe testimonies(BCC) High School spoke before the MCPS Board of Education about the deplorable conditions that exist at the school’s cafeteria. Helena Hailu, a senior at BCC and leader of the Minority Scholars Program, described the cafeteria as one the most unappealing rooms in the school, and denounced the inadequacy of the school meals.

Hailu (in bottom of photo at right) stated that during freshmen and sophomore years, when Elena and Helena up closeshe qualified for Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs): “I didn’t even want to eat in the cafeteria. If I walked out with a lunch tray in my hand, people would come up and ask, ‘Are you really going to eat cafeteria food?’ ” She also shared that “The stigma is widespread throughout the school and from what I’ve heard from other schools, everyone views the government-provided food the same way. . . this overarching stigma is caused by poor quality food which the county could change by providing healthier foods.”

Elena de Toledo (in top of photo above), who also attends BCC and serves on RFKM’s Advisory Board, testified that “there is no place more segregated in the school than the cafeteria,” and also described the stigma of eating in the cafeteria, stating: “I see many kids who would rather eat a lunch made up of several vending machine items, or not eat at all, because eating in the cafeteria targets them as ‘poor’ ”.  She testified further that “We have given so much effort to closing the achievement gap but the cafeterias are promoting it. The food offered in the cafeteria is simply not healthy or tasty enough to draw in kids willing to pay for lunch.” We congratulate these two courageous students for speaking to the board about their concerns about the school lunch.

Watch Video of Testimonies (click on Public Comments)

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