Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras addresses school lunch concerns

Richmond

FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, file photo, kids eat lunch at an elementary school in Paducah, Ky. The Biden administration is expanding a program to feed as many as 34 million school children during the summer months. They’re using funds from the coronavirus relief package approved in March 2021. (Ellen O’Nan/The Paducah Sun via AP, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras addressed school lunch complaints in his most recent RPS Direct Memo.

In a school board meeting Monday, some parents and children spoke out about the amount and quality of lunches, as well as the lack of hot meals.

“Let’s just say it was warm. It’s still not enough,” 8th grader Christopher Erby said at the meeting. “But you got to at least try to eat it, and then, when I bit into it, my tooth started to hurt because it was that cold.”

Kamras said the school district decided against hot lunches when reopening and instead went with “grab and go meals.” This was decided as a way to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the school lunch line.

“We also had logistical concerns about hot lunches given that many of our schools use multiple locations for lunch (not just the lunch room) to ensure 6 feet of distancing,” Kamras explained.

The superintendent said that the school district has plans to eventually transition to hot meals once everyone gets accustomed to their mitigation strategies. This transition will start at the high school level. However, there is also a significant number of vacancies on the district’s food and nutrition team which would make it hard to provide hot school lunches.

At this time, there are 117 food service vacancies out of the 278 food service workers the division typically employs. During the meeting Monday, the School Board approved an increase in the hourly rate for food and nutrition employees to help with recruitment and retention.

“As for the amount and quality of the food served, there were clearly some missteps last week and I sincerely apologize for that. For example, on one day, a snack instead of a meal was provided, and some of the menu items did not meet our expectations in terms of quality,” Kamras stated.

Kamras said they are working to fix these issues and will update their menu to make sure it meets student needs.

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