Eleven-year-old Zachary Maxwell, a fourth grade student at P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto in Manhattan’s Little Italy, asked his parents if he could start taking a packed lunch to school — but they didn’t see why he should. School lunches were free, and they sounded fantastic according to the New York City Department of Education website. But Zachary’s parents didn’t know that what was really being served at his school wasn’t at all what was being advertised on the website. So Zachary snuck a camera into his school and filmed what he was being served for lunch for six months, compiling insider footage on the NYC school lunch program.
According to The New York Times, among the 75 lunches that Zachary recorded, chosen randomly he insists, he found that two or more of the advertised menu items were actually served only 51% of the time. The menus were only completely accurate, with all of the advertised menu items served up to students, 16% of the time.
For example, on a day the menu advertised, “cheesy lasagna rolls with tomato basil sauce, roasted spinach with garlic and herbs,” Zachary was served a plastic-wrapped grilled cheese sandwich with nothing else on the tray! And when the menu promised Rachel Ray’s “Yum-O! Marinated Tomato Salad,” he was actually served a slice of pizza accompanied by a wisp of lettuce.
Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Education insists that school lunches are healthy and that perhaps Zachary wasn’t choosing the vegetable option each time. Zachary says he always took everything that was offered. Feinberg also mentions that until this past September, schools did have some leeway to deviate from the published lunch menus, but new federal regulations for the current year have set stricter guidelines for what elements need to be on a child’s plate.
Zachary brings his own lunch to school now, having won the battle with his parents with the help of the award-winning film he produced, aptly entitled “Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch”. Edited by his video hobbyist dad CJ Maxwell, Zachary’s film is currently on the festival circuit and will be screened at the Manhattan Film Festival.
via Business Insider