Feb 4, 2022 - News

Outrage over school food in Peoria

school food
Food from a Peoria middle school. Photos courtesy of Anthony Kramer

Peoria social service worker Anthony Kramer says he lost his job last week after posting pictures of the food at the middle school where he worked.  

  • The removal sparked a wave of complaints and posts from local parents about the quality of the district's food.

Why it matters: These complaints are pretty common in Illinois, one of only two states that make school districts give catering contracts to the lowest bidder instead of the company with the best food program.

Driving the news: Last month, Peoria-based state Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth reintroduced House Bill 1782 to free school districts from the "lowest bidder" provision.

What they're saying: Booth tells Axios she originally launched the bill after being shocked by the food in her own daughter's school meals, "and then knowing why she came home feeling hungry."

  • She can pack her daughter's lunch, but says, "I know that not every parent can do that."

The big picture: "It completely defeats the purpose of feeding kids two meals a day if they don't eat it and they throw it in the garbage," Booth says. "As taxpayers, are we getting a good return on our dollars?"

  • Angry parents are blaming the school district for bad food, but Booth blames the low bidder procurement policy that encourages "a race to the bottom" when it comes to feeding the most vulnerable kids in the state.

What's next: Booth hopes to have the bill assigned to committees in the next session and on the governor's desk by April 8.

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