NY school apologizes after kicking off Black History Month with fried chicken, watermelon

A New York middle school and its food vendor are apologizing for serving chicken and watermelon for lunch on the first day of Black History Month, an error the vendor called “unintentionally” insensitive.

Students at Nyack Middle School in Rockland County, just outside New York City, were served chicken and waffles with watermelon, foods stereotypically associated with Black people, after Aramark, the school’s food vendor, changed the menu items without telling the school, according to school administrators.

“The offering of chicken & waffles as an entree with watermelon as a dessert on the first day of Black History Month was inexcusably insensitive and reflected a lack of understanding of our district’s vision to address racial bias,” the school said in a letter to parents, according to local news affiliate WABC.

The meal was originally supposed to be Philly cheesesteak, broccoli and fresh fruit, according to administrators and a menu on the school’s website. Aramark apologized for the decision in a statement, saying it was an unintentional oversight.

“We apologize for the unintentional insensitivity shown on February 1, the first day of Black History Month,” the company said in a statement, according to CNN. “While our menu was not intended as a cultural meal, we acknowledge that the timing was inappropriate, and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service.”

New York University severed its ties with Aramark in 2019, about a year after the vendor served a “Black History Meal” that included ribs, collard greens, mac and cheese, and watermelon.

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