Parents, students disgusted by canned school lunches after Irma

Highlands serving ready-made food post storm
Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-25 07:04:00-04

Some kids and parents in Highlands County say their kids are disgusted by the lunch they’re being served at school.

Parents flooded the school district with criticism about serving children some canned food, served as ready-made meals, after they lost power during Hurricane Irma.

“Cat food,” said Stacey Chmura, a concerned mother in Avon Park. “They said it looked like what they fed their cat, what they fed their dog.”

Chimera says she isn’t concerned about the fact that the school district served the canned food. She says she is upset that parents were not notified of the meal changes to prep her young children for what they would be served.

“Nobody is explaining to them what they’re eating or why they’re eating it,” she said. “And if we would have been notified ahead of time we could have sent our kids to school with a regular lunch.”

The Highlands County School District had donated its perishable meals, serving 10,000 families during the storm.

However, the schools could not reopen again until they had meals to serve students.

Dr. Brenda Longshore, Highlands County Superintendent, said she made the decision to order 27,000 ready-made meals when there were no guarantees they would have power to all schools.

An email was sent out to district staff explaining the meal changes. However, parents were not notified, Longshore said.

“I understand that communication is key and it’s very important,” Longshore said.

In the future, Longshore said all parents will be notified of changes to the meals.

“Absolutely, I would be communicating the type of meals the kids would be provided,” she said.


Chmura said she understands why the canned food was necessary. She just wants more communication to prep her family.

“We’re completely grateful for everything the community did,” she said. “We understand that everyone went through hard times. What we don’t understand is why wouldn’t you let us know about it?”

Highlands County Schools got in a new shipment of food and will begin serving hot meals again on Monday.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, all students in Highlands County schools will be able to receive free breakfast and lunch. This additional support is available through October 20, 2017.