Paterson students go without lunch on first day of summer school | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Paterson students go without lunch on first day of summer school

By Jayed Rahman
Published: July 9, 2018

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Students at some schools went without lunch on Monday, first day of summer school, due to meal delivery delays experienced by a vendor, according to school officials.

Seven schools received late meal deliveries, said officials. The district requires the vendor, Driscoll Foods, to deliver before 10:30 a.m. Some schools received deliveries at 12 p.m. In two cases, schools received meals at 2 p.m., long after students were dismissed for the day.

It’s not clear how many students were affected.

“We are still investigating the situation to see what was the cause of the delivery [delays] and shortage today,” said business administrator Richard Matthews.

School officials said the vendor was asked last week whether its staff was familiar with the schools and prepared to make deliveries on Monday. It replied in the affirmative, suggesting a dry run was not needed.

A representative for Driscoll Foods did not respond to multiple calls for comment for this story.

“We’re not going to allow our students to not be fed lunch because an adult or a company messed it up,” said school board president Oshin Castillo. School officials scrambled to remediate the issue on Monday. The vendor is receiving a stern warning and has to forgo charging the district for today’s order for bungling the delivery.

Driscoll Foods receives millions of dollars in business from the district every school year.

“I’m furious about it. I’ve been getting a lot of calls from parents. Kids went home hungry. A lot of our kids depend on lunch,” said school board member Emanuel Capers. He said he reported the problem to the administration after receiving phone calls from parents.

“This should have never happened,” said Capers. School officials have told the company the district will switch to the second bidder for the contract if the issue persists.

School 28, 16, 18, and 13 received deliveries after 10:30 a.m.

School 24 received meals at 12:30 p.m. and School 5 and 27 received deliveries after 2 p.m., said school officials.

“First two days are a nightmare,” said recreation director Benjie Wimberly. He runs the city’s various recreation programs that receive lunch through the district’s summer meal program. He recalled about 15 years ago, students received spoiled milk. “That was the worst,” he said.

School officials said they do not expect similar problems to recur on Tuesday.

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