Fed Up With Menu, Students Stage Lunchroom Boycott
TIVOLI (AP) - Macaroni and cheese again? Students at a Texas junior high school staged a four-day boycott of cafeteria food last week to press for more menu choices and healthier alternatives.
About 30 students at Austwell-Tivoli Junior High School in Tivoli, Texas, near the Gulf Coast, shunned the cafeteria’s offerings and brought their lunches from home for four days last week, The Victoria Advocate reported over the weekend.
They demanded less menu repetition and more choice in what is served, including salads. President of the seventh-grade class Mckenzi Simmons said “boycott” was a vocabulary word in a recent Texas history class, and that students put what they’d learned into action.
“All we wanted was for our voice to be heard and a chance at change,” said Mckenzi, 12.
Superintendent Antonio Aguirre said his Austwell-Tivoli Independent School District offers free lunch to students and staff because a large portion of the district is deemed low-income by the state.
Aguirre defended the school’s menus, saying they are based on policy set by the Texas Department of Agriculture — which provide specific nutritional guidelines for foods like fruits and vegetables, portion sizes and fried foods.
But he also saluted the students for harnessing the “power of their own learning.”
“Kids will say, `When am I ever going to use this stuff?”‘ Aguirre said about some classrooms. “Maybe those girls are our leaders of tomorrow. Somebody has to jump up and do something different.”
On Wednesday, Mckenzi and the class vice president sent a letter to their principal, Stephen Maldonado, on behalf of their class, calling for less repetition in lunches and a choice of a salad. That same day, another letter she sent to the principal emphasized their stance.
“We have tried other solutions before,” the letter read. “However, seeing as there has been no change or consideration, we have come to this option. Once again, if we have hurt anyone’s feelings we are sincerely sorry, as it was unintentional.”
The students believe their demands have been heard and plan to now halt the boycott.