8th-Grader Speaks About Cafeteria Food, After Lunch Photo Goes Viral

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An eighth-grader decided to speak out after a concerning photo went viral. Her school claims there is nothing to worry about, but many students, parents, and viewers disagree. Is it a cause for concern? You decide.

Rowland Academy
Rowland Academy (Photo Credit: Screen capture/Fox43)

Rowland Academy, part of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area school district, was forced to defend their cafeteria’s food choices after a student decided enough was enough. Disgusted by the food on their plate, they snapped a photo, which was later posted online by a concerned parent.

“It just looks nasty,” a Rowland Academy eighth-grader, who wished to remain anonymous, said, referring to the food served at school. “The burgers are pink and don’t look like they’re cooked at all,” she added, expressing her concerns after the photo of one such burger went viral.

Rowland Academy
The burger served at Rowland Academy (Photo Credit: Facebook)

The image sparked concern for parents, especially after hearing students say that this is how the burgers in the Harrisburg school’s cafeteria look every day, Fox 43 reported. But, according to the unnamed eighth-grader, she has it even worse than other students because she is scheduled for the last lunch of the day.

By the time she’s served, the cafeteria has run out of most other options, she says. The unsightly burgers are often all that’s left. And, she just can’t eat it after looking at it. “I get it and get an orange and then throw away the food and just eat the orange,” she said.

The anonymous eighth-grader discusses the issue with a reporter. (Photo Credit: Screen capture/Fox43)

Southwest Foodservice Excellence, also known as SFE, along with Tyson Foods, both say there’s nothing to worry about, assuring the public the burgers are completely safe to eat. According to a statement from SFE, the burgers are already fully-cooked when delivered, so the fear that the pink color may indicate the meat is raw is unfounded. Tyson Foods, the manufacturer that supplies the burgers to SFE, agrees.

“Sometimes fully-cooked meat can revert back to a pinkish color if it’s placed for an extended period of time in a high-temperature/low-oxygen container or appliance, such as a steam pan or holding oven,” a statement from Tyson explained. But, just to be sure, SFE will investigate the situation further and even send out a regional chef to provide continued training on how to prepare the food.

Rowland Academy
Rowland Academy (Photo Credit: Facebook)

But, students aren’t convinced and say they won’t be taking any chances, which seems to be the most reasonable response. If you don’t like what’s being served, don’t eat it. In fact, don’t even purchase it. When it doesn’t sell, it will send a message.

However, this raises the concern that kids might go hungry. When asked if she felt hungry all day at school, the student responded, “Not really, because I still have the orange and milk and stuff, but most of the time, it is like I’m still hungry.”

Student speaks about school cafeteria food, after photo of lunch goes viral

“The burgers and pink and don’t look like they’re cooked at all,” said the student.One Rowland Academy student is speaking out after a photo of a school cafeteria hamburger goes viral.https://fox43.com/2019/01/25/student-speaks-about-school-cafeteria-food-after-photo-of-lunch-goes-viral/

Posted by Ashley Paul News on Friday, January 25, 2019

If something doesn’t look or smell right, I’m not eating it, and I’d tell my kids the same. But, I also know, you can’t please everyone, and what looks fine to one person might completely gross someone else out. This burger would personally fall in the latter category for me. And, people who work in school cafeterias seem to agree.

“I am a manager at a school kitchen. This is not acceptable! Even if the burgers are fully cooked, by board of health law, they still need to be heated to 165 degrees. Also, my last wave lunch gets everything first wave lunch gets! We don’t run out,” Facebook user Kelly Ann McCleary declared. “I wouldn’t serve that to my dog!” And, she wasn’t alone.

Rowland Academy
Rowland Academy (Photo Credit: Facebook)

“What disturbs me the most is that all the other options are gone by last lunch,” Gretchen Conley-Chitwood, who’s also a school nutrition manager, added, saying all options must be available and served at the proper temperature from the first student served to the last one. “Precooked burgers can be hot and juicy and appealing as long as they are being batch cooked and not left in a warmer for hours,” she said. “Someone needs some training!”

Indeed, the issue is bigger than whether this one burger is safe to eat. All students, regardless of the time they are served, need to have the same options available. No one’s kid deserves to be the unlucky one who gets the day’s scraps. Luckily, students were brave enough to speak up so this could be addressed. And, that’s the important takeaway. If something doesn’t seem right, bring it up and start a conversation so it can hopefully be resolved.

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