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Moldy fruit, spoiled schmear, ‘mushy paste’: Lawmaker raises flag about NYC school food



Moldy fruit, spoiled schmear, ‘mushy paste’: Lawmaker raises flag about NYC school food

Cream cheese that has turned colors after having spoiled. A plate of rice and beans and nothing else. And a side of what can best be described as gray “some kind of mushy paste.”

A state senator who represents parts of Brooklyn says that parents and students in her district have been blowing up her phone with complaints about the food being served in cafeterias at New York City schools.

State Senator Iwen Chu said that students have noticed a drastic change in food quality recently and have complained of some meals and items that are, at best, concerning. Her inbox has been flooded since early February with images showing the food that, in some extreme cases, appear to have mold.

“We need to provide quality nutrition, fresh lunch — not moldy oranges or moldy cream cheese,” said Chu, who represents neighborhoods that include Sunset Park, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. “It’s not acceptable with that kind of quality.”

Chu told NBC New York that students from various high schools – including Brooklyn Tech, Edward R. Murrow, Midwood and Staten Island Tech – sent her photos of their meals. One of the common complaints has been a decline in protein options.

“What I heard from the students, they have pizza every other day, there’s no meat on it. Sometimes they will have chicken nuggets, but not every meal. They might have [a protein] once a day,” said Chu.

The lawmaker sent a letter to the mayor’s office and the city’s Department of Education (DOE) asking questions about the meals. She said she was still waiting for either one “to tell us what exactly is the issue.”

A spokesperson for the DOE said in a statement that “all food quality issues are investigated immediately, and we follow daily extensive protocols to ensure that that food is received, stored, cooked and served safely.” The department added that a team of inspectors visited the schools Chu referenced in her letter.

In the meantime, Brooklyn Tech High school student Teddy Simmons said he will continue to pack his lunch from home and hopes Chu’s efforts make a difference.

“I think there’s been a decline in quality since I got here, like there’s been less chicken tenders,” he said. “Some of it’s like, it’s prioritizing nutrition and cheapness and it doesn’t matter if kids won’t eat your food.”

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