In light of social media posts revealing a food shortage at El Capitan Elementary during lunchtime, the Roswell Independent School District released a statement confirming that the grade school had in fact been lacking an appropriate amount of meals for students.
Since then, parents have joined together to voice their concerns.
“I’m definitely seeing it’s not just an El Capitan issue, this is definitely a bigger — I’m not going to say a RISD issue — but definitely a food program,” said mother Carrie Hardy. “Whoever’s doing the food, it’s a bad issue.”
The RISD mother went on to mention an instance last week where the elementary school had run out of lunch trays and told students they were out of food, her child said.
“Were they told to just hang tight and that another food truck was coming?” Hardy asked her child. “And she was like, ‘No.’
Hardy said, as a result, students in the cafeteria were asked to raise their hand if they were not going to eat.
“Some students raised their hands, so they went and took those trays from students and gave them to those that were denied — hello flu season,” she said. “I appreciate the initiative — you ran out of food, you kind of panicked, but that’s still a huge issue.”
The quality of RISD’s school lunches too was placed into question by Roswell parents after photos and video were presented to Facebook’s online community.
These alleged instances of lower-quality foods included rubber-like hotdogs at El Capitan, frozen cartons of chocolate milk at University High and instances of rock-like grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies at Roswell High.
Hardy, a mother of eight, said she also has children attending Roswell High and Sierra Middle School.
While the parent explained she has raised her kids to not be picky eaters and be thankful for food overall, Hardy said she noticed a problem when her children would come home “starving.”
When the mother asked whether or not they had eaten that day, they were told no, and that the meals that were available were “disgusting.”
“I didn’t believe them,” Hardy said. “I was like, ‘Guys, I understand this is not like a homecooked meal, but you can’t be picky. You have to eat — your body needs this.”
Hardy explained that when she had lunch with her fifth-grader last week, they had a meal that was less than desirable.
“And that’s whenever we had the hotdog,” the mother said. “I took that photo.”
Referencing a photo posted on Facebook, showing a school tray with a frankfurter, fruit and a bare hotdog bun, the post garnered more than 270 shares an over 200 comments.
Hardy said her meal was an issue.
“I tried to tear the hotdog in half and couldn’t — it’s like rubber,” she laughed. “I was like, ‘OK, I probably wouldn’t eat that.’”
The mother said she began to catch on to what her children were telling her.
“The hotdog bun was hard enough,” Hardy said. “I’m sure you saw the grilled cheese video — it was the same way. I was like knocking on the table, and I mean — come on.”
After her not-so-hot hotdog meal, the RISD mother said she began if her high school girls had experienced similar issues, to which they said yes.
“I am definitely not out on a witch hunt or anything,” Hardy explained. “So, I’m asking individually, because, of course, you get a bunch of kids together — you never know what you’re going to get.”
Hardy then advised them to take photos and video of their meals, and send it to her.
“If you guys are being served things that you can’t eat, then that’s obviously an issue that needs to be addressed,” Hardy had told her children.
Hardy referenced one video where a student knocks a cookie against a table, demonstrating its hardness.
“Did you hear the sadness in her little sigh?” The mother asked. “She was looking forward to that cookie.”
Hardy has continued to keep a watchful eye, she said.
“(Tuesday), my daughter came home and that’s when she told me that some kids were told, ‘Sorry, we’re out of food, and weren’t offered anything,” Hardy said. “That was kind of a — kind of breaking point for me.
“For my family, I can afford to send my kids lunches to school, and that’s something we’re going to start doing, but what about the students (where) that’s the only meal they rely on? Some kids don’t go home and have dinner.”
While the parent understands that some school lunches can be free and reduced in price, Hardy said she would rather pay if it meant for a better meal for students.
“And have quality food served, you know?” She said. “Something edible.”
In the statement from RISD regarding food services at El Capitan Elementary, the school district said it had been made aware of the shortage on Wednesday.
“Upon review by the District, it was determined that El Capitan experienced a shortage of food and that additional food was in the process of being delivered from a satellite school to ensure that students would receive full meals,” the statement read. “As a result, the district has reviewed food service procedures and implemented plans to improve monitoring of timely meal service at all schools.”
RISD interim superintendent Susan Sanchez added to the discussion, saying that RISD takes pride in the district’s nutrition department, along with its efforts to ensure that all students are provided with meals that meet all of the USDA federal requirements.
“Delays in meal delivery to our students simply cannot occur,” Sanchez said. “I met this morning with the district’s director of food services to address parents’ concerns and to confirm that adequate plans are made to ensure that all of our students receive full meals and receive them on time.”
Sanchez said, as a result, El Capitan students received their lunch on Wednesday without any delay.
The school district said if parents have any concerns regarding food service at RISD schools, to contact Lyman Graham, director of food services, at email@example.com or 575-627-3338.
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.