South Lake Middle School students without hot lunch, proper cafeteria until 2023

'He's like, 'Mom, I'm so hungry.'
Posted at 5:55 AM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 07:39:55-04

ST. CLAIRE SHORES, MI (WXYZ) — Just weeks into the school year, St. Clair Shores families say they were blind-sided by their school district when suddenly South Lake Middle School announced that they were getting rid of hot lunches until next year.

For some students, it's one of the only hot meals they get a day.

As of last year, more than 715,000 Michigan students met the qualifications for free or reduced lunches. That's more than 51% of students.

At South Lake Middle School, that number stands at more than 230 kids which count for about 68% of students.

In the meantime, students are getting cold sack lunches which parents say aren't filling.

According to the district, the change in lunch food is due to renovations at the school, but one local mom says the consequences of her son's school being under construction are more than just an inconvenience.

"He's like, 'Mom, I'm so hungry.' And that would be as soon as I picked him up," mother Jaymie Wilde said.

Her son is a first-year middle schooler and so far, not so good.

"Our children deserve better," Wilde said.

Right now Wilde says her son and all his classmates are being forced to eat cold lunches on bleachers because of ongoing remodeling projects at South Lake Middle School.

They're being fed pizza kits, sandwiches, and snacks that just aren't keeping him full, a concern for Wilde as she is enrolled in the school's community eligibility provision.

"And that is for children in districts of low income so that means there is a high probability of children in the district that are relying on these lunches," she said.

So far this school year, the middle school has given out nearly 850 free or reduced lunches.

Wilde's family is now packing lunch for their son at the sacrifice of other bills.

"We're starting to get behind on things and it's been very hard," Wilde said.

7 Action News reached out to South Lake Schools Superintendent Theodore Vonhiltmayer who tells us that they have added an additional snack to school lunches following concerns from Wilde and other parents.

He also says "every child is receiving a nutritional lunch consistent with state and government standards. Every child is receiving the same type of lunch that was served when students were working from home."

These cold lunches are expected to stay until at least January the superintendent says.

The middle school started construction the Monday after the school year ended last year and the kitchen is the third and final phase of the renovation.

"I believe the renovations will be great, but that's in the future, what about right now," Wilde said.

Wilde says if the school properly communicated the menu change with parents and given options earlier, she would have switched schools.