By GABRIELLE MONDO
Parsippany Hills High School students organized a lunch strike that has been ongoing since Oct. 5, launching a protest against the government’s new food requirements.
Students Nicky Caccavale and Brandon Faris, both Parsippany residents, organized the strike because they say the smaller and more expensive school lunches are leaving them hungry and frustrated. The smaller portions are a result of the federal initiative for healthier lunches in schools nationwide. Under the new regulations that went into effect in July, all schools must offer smaller bread and meat servings, or pay a penalty fee.
According to the students, the prices went up by about 20 cents for meals, but the problem is that they have to buy more to get full.
“They took the spicy chicken sandwich, literally cut the patty in half, and serve less bread with it,” said Caccavale.
Faris added that he doesn’t think it is fair to have to remain hungry and eat smaller portions when he does not suffer from obesity.
“It is an even bigger problem for athletes who need to have energy for practices and games after school and are not getting enough food at lunch,” Faris said.
Caccavale and Faris created a Facebook group and handed out flyers in school to spread the word and encourage students to take a stand against the raised prices and smaller portions by not spending any money in the school cafeteria and brown bagging their lunch.
The strike began on Oct. 5 and students have continued to brown bag their lunches ever since. Other New Jersey and New York City schools are serving fewer calories and offering up fruits and vegetables, trying to steer away from the baked goods and french fries that were offered in the past.
Effects of the Strike
According to Vincent Mondo, another student at Parsippany Hills High School, people are slowly beginning to buy lunch again, but for a while they would shut down lunch lines by fifth period because nobody was buying lunch.
“One of the ladies who worked the sandwich line was transferred to a different school and only one sandwich line is open when there used to be two,” Mondo said.
Mondo said that the strike is frustrating school staff, but not reaching government officials who are essentially the only ones who can put a stop to this.
Food Service President Explains
President of Pomptonian Food Service, Mark Vidovich, told Fox NY that the best way for students to bring about change is to contact their local representatives or the USDA.
He admits that there is 33 percent less meat being served and that the bread portions have also been cut.
This issue is not just solitary to Parsippany Hills High School. Students across the nation have been complaining about smaller lunch portions causing them to be hungry and fatigued throughout the school day.
The students do not have a plan yet to contact any political actors, but it is evident that the school cannot lower prices or return to normal portions because of the federal mandate.