A middle school in New York has apologised after their students were served fried chicken and waffles, with watermelon for dessert, on the first day of Black History Month.
Nyack Middle School, just north of New York City, kicked off Black History Month, also known as February, with the fried chicken and watermelon combo, much to the surprise of some of the students there.
“They were asking people if they want watermelon and I remember being confused because it’s not in season,” said student Honore Santiago. After going home, she told her mother, leaving both of them outraged by the decision to serve the food, which has racial connotations against black people.
“If they had served chicken and waffles by itself, I don’t know that we would be having this conversation. But the moment you add in the watermelon, that changed the whole complexion, literally,” said Wilbur Aldridge, a member of the Nyack NAACP.
Nyack, New York students were served chicken and waffles with a side of watermelon on the first day of #BlackHistoryMonth, causing the principal to apologize for the “insensitive” incident, according to a letter issued by the school last week. pic.twitter.com/4rH9vEwySm
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) February 7, 2023
“Didn’t think the company was capable of making us feel bad…especially the kids my color,” Santiago said, adding to CBS that she just hopes Aramark, the food vendor responsible, wouldn’t do it again, “at a different school or my school ever again.”
According to school officials, the menu was actually supposed to be Philly cheesesteak served with broccoli, and fresh fruit for dessert. The principal of the school claimed in a letter to parents that the menu change was done without their knowledge, and that the food “reinforces negative stereotypes concerning the African-American community”:
“The offering of chicken & waffles as an entree with watermelon as a dessert on the first day of Black History Month was inexcusably insensitive and reflected a lack of understanding of our district’s vision to address racial bias. Nyack Public Schools administrators contacted Aramark officials to insist on a mechanism to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s mistake. The vendor has agreed to plan future menu offerings to align with our values and our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. 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.”
A New York middle school and its food vendor are apologizing for serving chicken and watermelon for lunch on the first day of Black History Month.
I am also outraged! How could they forget Hillary Clinton’s hot sauce?
— Dom Lucre | Breaker of Narratives (@dom_lucre) February 7, 2023
In a statement, Aramark apologised for the “unintentional insensitivity” that they had shown with the menu, which, while not intended as a “cultural meal,” did have inappropriate timing, adding that their team should have been “more thoughtful” with the menu choices:
“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.”
This is not the first time that Aramark has been in hot water over supposedly racially insensitive menu choices. In 2018, New York University dropped Aramark after they served a celebratory Black History Month meal consisting of barbecue ribs, corne bread, collard greens, and the choice of either Kool-Aid or watermelon-flavoured water.
In 2011, a special meal for Martin Luther King Day at the University of California’s Irvine campus was also fried chicken and waffles, with Aramark forcing their managers and chefs to undergo racial sensivitity training as a result.
February 8, 2023 at 4:18 pm
Aramark was a vendor for the prison system and they always had problems.
February 10, 2023 at 7:27 am
IDK what the big deal is. If they’d had an Italian-American day and served pasta and cannolis back when I was in school, I would have been thrilled. Why deny that certain foods are loved by certain cultures? It is what it is. Bunch of virtue signaling, pearl clutching nonsense this is.
February 11, 2023 at 12:57 pm
What’s even dumber is that it is “blacks” that are complaining. Now we know it is time to stop allowing “blacks” to purchase watermelon in this country because it offends them. All restaurants are now prohibited from serving fried chicken, collards, and barbecue to any negros, and lets add fried catfish and chitlins to that list. Let them go back to scrounging for grubs like their kin in Africa do.
Isn’t watermelon the African “national” fruit – its colors (red, green, and black) are the colors of the Afro flag! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
February 10, 2023 at 4:52 pm
It doesn’t matter who served what,someone,somewhere will always
hit the race button…I’m Southern give it to me….
LAMONT G. SANDORD
February 11, 2023 at 1:31 pm
Y.T. IS TRYING TO HOLD ME DOWN WITH GOOD FOOD !!
THEN WATCH BLACK FOLK BE MAD AT NO SOUL FOOD , THEN COMPLAIN IF THEY SERVE IT !!
NO RIGHT ANSWER !!