Providing proper standars for elementary lunches.
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My name is Victoria Duarte, I am a parent to two elementary aged students. As an upset and concerned parent regarding EPISD elementary school food program, I am needing support in changing a few options given to our kids, that you may or may not be aware about!
At the school my children attend in west El Paso, fourth graders are the last ones to enter the cafeteria at 1:00pm, after coming in from 20 minutes of recess. So, picture this, not only are these 9/10 year olds already hungry from waiting until 1:00 pm to eat, they've already exhausted themselves out a bit more and worked up a stronger appetite. On November 16, 2017, my nine year old daughter was standing in the cafeteria line impatiently waiting to devour her hotdog and fries, but before she even got near, these poor children were informed that they have ran out of food. The principal at Rivera Elementary, Mrs. Contreras, proceeded to head count the remaining students who would be forced to choose between 3 options. My daughter and twenty other fourth graders had to choose between 1) lettuce and croutons with ranch and tuna on the side with a milk. 2) A cheese sandwich with a milk. Or 3) Gram crackers, a yogurt and a milk. Unfortunately, this was the second time this incident happened to my daughter. The first time, I let it go, knowing sometimes my kid can be a picky eater, I assumed it was her own choice to not eat during lunch. But this time, my daughter had been getting over a cold for a few days and was accumulating her power to eat to her full potential again. She told me she almost cried when she saw another student who was able to choose the hotdog and fries throw away the uneaten food. She was so hungry and lethargic by the time she was picked up after school. ...To know that this elementarys cafeteria runs out of food before letting all the children pick for themselves is really confounding.
I immediately addressed this issue with the principal the following morning on Friday the 17th. Disappointingly, I was only fueled from there. Immediately, principal Mrs. Contreras informed me she had no authority over the food and transportation departments. Making me feel like she was ready to place the blame elsewhere. As a parent we honestly feel the principal should have control over the staff working in her school, for the students, our children! Before Mrs. Contreras was able to get the attention of the cafeteria manager to join our meeting, she did inform me a few days prior to Nov. 16 incident, a few kids had to miss out on pizza cause it "ran out" leaving these unknown student to pick a cheese sandwich or crackers with milk. So to my knowledge, this has happened at least three separate times since September, the first time my daughter told me she didn't eat.
The cafeteria manager had no remorse or seemed to be effected that these children suffer from the lack of attention she is providing as the school meal planner. She was forced to apologize and got very defensive trying to explain that all options provided to the students fall under the nutritional requirements. Also stating "some days she has to throw out tons of the first option because kids didn't like it and sometimes she runs out of the first option too fast." I'm sure we can all agree any organized manager, especially with something so important as feeding a school, should know what meals go faster than the ones that don't. She needs to plan accordingly or be replaced by someone who will! At one point during the meeting between the principal, the cafeteria manager and myself, I turned to ask Mrs. Contreras if her daughter, who is in the same grade as mine, got to eat a hotdog. Astounded, the lunch manager quickly said and I quote, "well, if I knew who your child was..." I immediately cut her off right there. It should not matter who the child is or who the child's parent is to be able to reserve a good meal, I told her.
There's obviously an ongoing issue that the first option, the better option, is running out before all the kids get to even choose because of poor planning. Maybe if the director of the districts nutritional program came up with better 2nd and 3rd options we could avoid our kids starving throughout the rest of the school day.
I've read the the EPISDs food and nutritional portion of the website, as they claim to be one of the biggest supporting departments for our students and the workers with an annual budget exceeding 33million dollars. The department is "self supporting, with revenue resources of, Federal reimbursement of every student meal served and also government commodities (over 2.3million dollars). So what's the issue?!
It's a shame to know that addressing a serious, consisting, problem to the principal at this school has no authority over this dilemma and is even more shameful to hear that nothing will be done about it until enough concerned parents get involved and fight back with me. I encourage you to help me be the voice for these young children by signing this petition and or sending an email as a concerned adult regarding this on going issue. No child should go hungry. Please help me fight for these elementary children whose parents can't get involved for whatever reason. Help me fight for one of our children's basic necessity, a decent, nutritional lunch meal while in the care of an educational facility.
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