Black History Month celebrations are taking place across the country. However, despite how well-intentioned they might be, some tributes truly miss the mark. In fact, a food service company that provides meals to Nyack Middle School in New York was forced to apologize over an incredibly racist meal on the lunch menu.
Aramark decided that a great meal to serve students on February 1, the first day of Black History Month, was fried chicken, waffles, and watermelon. Given that these foods are stereotypically identified with Black people, it was more than a little racist.
What’s worse, these foods weren’t even on the menu for that day. According to officials, students were originally supposed to have Philly cheesesteak with broccoli and fresh fruit. This makes Aramark’s decision seem less like a mistake and more like a blatant insult.
“If they had served chicken and waffles by itself, I don’t know that we would be having this conversation,” Wilbur Aldridge from the Nyack NAACP told CBS News. “But the moment you add in the watermelon, that changed the whole complexion, literally.”
Nyack Middle School student Honore Santiago admitted she was pretty offended when she saw what was available for lunch.
“They were asking people if they want watermelon and I remember being confused because it’s not in season,” she said. She added that she “didn’t think the company was capable of making us feel bad… especially the kids my color.”
Aramark and Black History Month really don’t mix
Nyack Middle School Principal Johnson issued a statement in light of the outrage the menu caused.
“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,” he said. “I am disappointed that Aramark would serve items that differed from the published monthly menu. Especially items that reinforce negative stereotypes concerning the African American Community.”
Aramark also issued an apology, saying: “While our menu was not intended as a cultural meal, we acknowledge that the timing was inappropriate, and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service.”
It looks like they haven’t learned from previous “mistakes.” Back in 2018, they served New York University students a menu of Kool-Aid, BBQ ribs, collard greens, and cornbread for Black History Month.