Milwaukee Public Schools lunches; youth group seeks overhaul

A group of Milwaukee Public Schools students wants change. The students say their school lunches need an overhaul – and they have a list of demands.

One student told FOX6 News he does not always have food at home, so he relies on MPS lunches. He said some days, the lunches are so bad, he goes hungry hoping the next day's food tastes better.

"Some of them are still half frozen when they’re served to us. They’re ice cold," said Eliza Palacios, a Hamilton High School junior. "Early in the morning, sometime in May, I was getting breakfast. There was only frozen oranges and frozen apples, and they put it in a metal tin so that was just making it even colder."

Palacios is part of a group called Youth Empowered in the Struggle (Y.E.S.). Those in the group say they surveyed more than a thousand Milwaukee Public Schools students. The survey found the biggest concern is the food.

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Students shared with FOX6 News photos of some of the food that brings concern.

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"It’s just consistently subpar to what should be given to us as people," said William Pickard, a Hamilton High School sophomore. 

Now, Y.E.S. has six demands it wants MPS to address. They include: 

  • Provide fresh school lunch that is cooked at the school by food service staff with locally sourced ingredients
  • Provide more lunch options simultaneously
  • Put a system in place that identifies and accommodates students' personal, religious, and medical dietary needs
  • Provide larger, more filling meals that leave students ready to learn, instead of hungry
  • Hire more lunch staff to cook the meals and increase their wages
  • MPS Board of Directors establish regular meetings with YES members to ensure these demands are met and implemented with student voices at the table

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"We deserve better food and fresher food because we think, as students, that it would help us focus more in class," Palacios said.

Eliza Palacios

Students say the school board has acknowledged one of the group's demands which includes regular meetings with individual school board members. Even so, the students say they have lots of work to do.

"Next school year we want change. I won’t rest until it happens," Pickard said.

Milwaukee Public Schools Administration reaction

"Milwaukee Public Schools champions academic achievement by providing students with high quality, nutritious meals. Because good nutrition is vital for a youth’s healthy development, MPS supports providing students with nutritious meals every day. We appreciate our students' feedback and look forward to addressing their ideas and suggestions in continued discussions."