Lunch photos show mystery meats, puny portions

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Unappetizing lunches are prompting big changes to the food program in Paterson Public Schools.

The staff is getting emergency kitchen lessons as school leaders promise to cook up something better.

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Photos show lunches being served at Paterson Public Schools. (Credit: Darnell Medley-Stokes)

The pastime at one Paterson high school is “label that lunch.”

CBS2’s Dave Carlin showed Paterson residents photos of some of the food being dished out.

“Uh, that’s, like, beef, I think,” Christopher Gutierrez said, examining one lunch.

Is it meat or vegetable or fruit?

“This is banana? I don’t know. What is this?” Naveen Zakhary said.

Zakhary checked out the meal on another lunch tray.

Photos show lunches being served at Paterson Public Schools. (Credit: Darnell Medley-Stokes)

“The chicken is too dark, right? The fries is burned,” she said.

“Nobody finds this acceptable,” Paterson Public Schools public information officer Paul Brubaker said. “This is a result of some carelessness.”

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Brubaker is reacting to the fallout after parents posted on social media photos taken by students of puny portions and mystery meats.

Paterson school administrators say they are overhauling the school lunch program and it begins with re-training cafeteria staff.

“The procedure in preparing the food was not followed,” Brubaker said. “The school board is going to be working with the administration to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Carlin saw some people entering Paterson International High with food from the outside.

“Prefer to send my own food. Send them with my own homemade food,” Xavier Bellvin said.

“This is the kids, man. You should be serving them real food, not frozen, processed food or food that looks like that,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez, who graduated last year, says he’s tasted it.

“Why are they even serving this? ‘Cause, like, it wasn’t, it looked exactly like that. It was very unappetizing,” he said.

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“They deserve much more,” Zakhary said.

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