A teen was so sickened by one school lunch that she spent the day throwing up. No one listened to her complaints, but she refused to sit back and do nothing. When her new Instagram page popped up, publicly exposing the cafeteria, even news outlets were forced to offer a disturbing warning before showing her photos.
Amber Christensen, a high school student from Blue Island, Illinois, was growing increasingly fed up with the meals being served in the cafeteria at Eisenhower High School, where she’s a junior. Not only was the food selection not appetizing at all, she believed the school lunch made her sick.
“The hamburgers just looked like straight up raw meat,” Amber explained. “You just kept seeing rotten apples and oranges,” she added, but that was far from the worst of it. Things took a drastic turn when one lunch left the high school junior physical ill.
“We had some type of meatloaf, Salisbury steak, I don’t really know what it was,” she recalled. “I got sick off of it and went to the school nurse. There were other kids in the nurse’s office that were sick from it too.” That’s when she reached her breaking point and decided enough was enough.
Amber wasn’t just being dramatic, either. Her mom, Mandy Silva, confirmed that the teen became violently ill. “She was laying in bed and constantly getting up and throwing up. It was terrible,” Mandy said. This made the mom concerned, not only for her own daughter but for all the students at the Blue Island school.
Sadly, three out of four kids qualify for free or reduced lunch at Amber’s school. “They depend on it, so it’s really heartbreaking,” Mandy furthered, referring to the free or low-cost meal 75% of the students receive and need. So, the concerned mom and her daughter complained to the school.
Unfortunately, Amber and her mom say they were simply told the lunch program follows the guidelines and nothing could be done about it. But, Amber decided there was at least one thing she could do. She could show others what students were forced to endure by taking to social media with the disturbing images she and her fellow classmates captured of their lunch.
Determined to publicly expose what was being served in her school, Amber created an Instagram page called “ikeprisonfood,” dedicated to documenting what Eisenhower students were being fed on a daily basis. It was enough to turn stomachs everywhere, especially after seeing the bug students discovered on a deli sandwich, as seen above.
Mandy Silva called the photos “appalling,” according to CBS 2 Chicago, and you don’t have to be a food connoisseur to agree. In fact, prison food is likely better. The images are so disgusting, the Instagram account quickly garnered a lot of attention, reaching far beyond the school district, and for good reason. When the local news covered the story, they even had to issue a warning before showing the images.
Thanks to Amber Christensen bringing some needed heat down on the school kitchen, District 218 superintendent Ty Harding was forced to respond. “The cafeteria team and the school administration met with students and took action based on their feedback,” he said in a statement after becoming aware of the social media account.
Those actions include additional inspections and higher training standards for cafeteria workers, according to the school, and Amber said she’s seen improvements already. “It’s edible now,” she said but added that she plans to keep the Instagram account up until she’s sure the positive changes are there to stay.
While no one expects the food in a school lunchroom to be able to compete with a five-star restaurant, it should at least look appealing. And, it definitely shouldn’t make you sick. Changes obviously needed to be made, and thanks to the efforts of one teen, the necessary improvements are coming to fruition. But, there’s a lot more to take away from this story than the fact that parents might need to take a look at what their children are being served at school.
Amber’s determination resulted in so much more than just better meals for her peers. She also provided a perfect example of how to handle adversity. When she found herself facing unsavory circumstances, she followed the chain of command. When that didn’t work, she let the evidence speak for itself. After using facts to prove the situation was as dire as she claimed, public pressure is resulting in real progress and a win for everyone involved.