Today, some Niles West students will be ditching the school's organic lunch menu in favor of food packed in a brown paper bag in what they're calling #LunchStrike2013.
In just 24 hours the strike has gone viral among the community. There’s a Facebook page - it's titled "Lunch Strike" - and has more than 1,500 followers. There's also an online petition that Niles West sophomore Mike Wheeler created.
But if you want to know how students really feel, Twitter is buzzing with the hashtag #LunchStrike2013.
Niles West junior Benjamin Zenuovic started the Facebook page on Monday. Zenuovic said he wants to see the school’s cafeteria food change and added that students aren’t getting their moneys worth.
“The portions are too scarce,” Zenuovic said. “The reason I made the page is because I saw a picture of one of my friend’s lunches on Facebook and it looked horrendous. The picture on Facebook gained a lot of attention, so I created the page to try to alter the quality of the food and the amount of food given to students and athletes.”
Yet there’s been some controversy regarding today’s strike. Zenuovic added that some students are being called “spoiled and not appreciative of what they’re getting."
“I just don’t think the quality of the food or the price is what the students want," he said.
Michelle Sproat, a junior and broadcast editor for the Niles West News, said some students feel the strike is unreasonable.
“Some are saying that the kids are acting greedy,” Sproat said. “On the flip side, it’s not that they’re not appreciating what they’re getting, it’s that they’re paying so much and getting so little.”
Sproat added that a slice of pizza is $3. A burger, $4. Want to add a drink? That’s another $2, Sproat said.
“It’s like restaurant priced,” she said. “In the beginning of the year, people were OK with [the food], but the quality has gotten worse. That’s what’s making people think, ‘Wow, I’m paying so much for such low quality food.’”
School principal responds -
Niles West principal Kaine Osburn released a statment regarding the strike on Tuesday.
"In recent weeks, a number of student complaints have been made to the administration regarding portion sizes in the cafeteria being too small.
Representatives from Organic Life are scheduled to meet with student government next week to address those concerns. At that meeting, representatives from the Niles West and District administration will be present.
If students wish to express their dissatisfaction with Organic Life by boycotting the food service, that is their right. We trust that students will not engage in such disruptive behavior that other students cannot obtain lunch in a safe environment."
The number of students receiving free or reduced-price meals has risen from about 5 percent in 2006 to more than 30 percent in 2010.
In September 2012, District 219 settled a $650,000 contract dispute with food provider Organic Life for $300,000, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Chicago-based food service threatened litigation for labor and enhancement costs, the publication reported.
In July 2011, the District 219 school board approved a contract with Organic Life and ditched former food service Aramark.
“Several factors led to this recommendation. We believe we will have much healthier food, and that is something we heard over and over from our students," said then-assistant superintendent for business services Paul O'Malley in a July 2011 article. "They want something that not only looks good, but tastes good.”
Michelle Martin contributed to this story ~