Parents have certain expectations when they send their kids to school. They expect teachers to do their best in educating students. They expect the administration to keep the needs of all students at the forefront. And they expect cafeteria staff to be put to work feeding all kids – regardless of their economic status.
Last week, Edna Carr High School violated the trust of both parents and students when they failed on that last count.
The school elected to have a fish fry fundraiser, selling $10 fish plates containing fried fish, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, peas, cake, and a soft drink to students. Students were highly encouraged to participate, as the money would go to support the school’s athletic program. Parents expected that those students who didn’t want to (or couldn’t afford to) participate would receive a normal lunch option.
What they got instead was this:
A very sad turkey sandwich consisting of a single slice of turkey between two pieces of bread, and a handful of carrots.
Students and parents alike were rightly outraged and took to social media to complain, with several claiming that the school’s cafeteria staff had been used to cook the fundraiser food, leaving no one to prepare a hot meal for students who didn’t, or couldn’t, participate.
On Tuesday, Inspire NOLA CEO Jamar McKneely issued a statement saying that the charter organization leadership was unaware of the fundraiser, and did not approve of the lunch option provided to students who chose not to participate.
On Friday, March 15, 2019, a fundraiser at Edna Karr High School took place during school hours. Though the fundraiser was intended to benefit Edna Karr students in multiple capacities, it was not authorized by InspireNOLA and should not have occurred. Unfortunately, and on this same school day, our food service provider provided a lunch menu selection that did not meet our “Second to None” standard.
We have met with all responsible parties, and the lunch that was served on March 15 will not be a menu option that is served to our students in the future. Staff members and adults involved in the meal selection and unauthorized fundraiser have been held accountable.
At InspireNOLA and Edna Karr, we are committed to adhering to creating and continuing a school experience and education that is “Second to None.” We will continue to support our team, club, and other extracurricular fundraising efforts, but will ensure that these occur during appropriate times and in the correct venues.
We commend and applaud the numerous students who advocated for themselves and their peers in requesting that this menu option be removed, and for keeping our standard of excellence high.
However, it seems unlikely that the leadership was unaware. The fundraiser was widely shared on the Edna Karr High School social media accounts, as well as by at least one individual member of the Orleans Parish School Board (a post that has since been deleted).
New Orleans currently has a child poverty rate of 39 percent (the national average is 18 percent). For many children, the lunch they receive at school is their last full meal of the day. The fact that this occurred is deeply concerning.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.