A school food vendor has issued an apology after serving chicken and waffles and watermelon on the first day of Black History Month.
According to NBC News, Aramark, a popular food vendor for schools across the U.S., apologized for the “unintentional insensitivity” of its Black History Month menu after receiving backlash from parents and students at Nyack Middle School in New York.
Aramark said the “inexcusable mistake” of serving chicken and waffles as an entree and watermelon as a dessert earlier this month “never should have happened.”
“We have apologized for our mistake, are working to determine how it happened and make sure it never happens again,” the company said in a statement on Sunday (February 5). “Our team at that school should have been more thoughtful in its service.”
In a letter to parents and students, David Johnson, principal of Nyack Middle School, said the school was unaware of the menu before it was served.
“The vendor has agreed to plan future menu offerings to align with our values and our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Johnson said. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Aramark has served a controversial menu.
In 2011, the food vendor provided chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Day at the University of California, Irvine. At the time, Aramark pledged to mandate cultural sensitivity training for its managers and chefs.
Students at the New York University were left outraged in 2018 after the same company served barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, Kool-Aid, and watermelon-flavored water for its Black History Month Menu, per the New York Times.
An editorial published in the school’s newspaper called the “racial stereotyping” by Aramark “unacceptable.”
“Although Aramark has made wide public apologies, it should be judged on its actions,” the editorial said. “Serving racially stereotyped food during Black History Month is another clear indicator that Aramark’s values as a company are misaligned.”
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