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Grand Rapids Christian apologizes for ‘Black History Month’ lunch

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Christian Schools is apologizing for a school lunch on Wednesday meant to honor Black History Month. Instead, it prompted complaints from students, saying it did exactly the opposite.

In its original lunch menu posted online, Grand Rapids Christian High School listed a “Black History Month” lunch of fried chicken, collared greens, mac and cheese, cornbread and banana pudding. After students complained to school administrators, calling it racist, the school started referring to the meal as a “Soul Food” lunch on the menu instead.

Superintendent Tom DeJonge apologized in a letter to parents, saying that the school has a responsibility to celebrate a variety of cultures, so it wanted to serve “an authentic Soul Food lunch.”

“Although the tradition was recently paused during the pandemic due to food service regulations, over the recent years, Grand Rapids Christian High School has partnered with a variety of community members to serve an authentic Soul Food lunch,” DeJonge said. “In an effort to continue this tradition of celebration, our food service department reached out to an executive chef, Xaviar Jamarillo, as a partner for this year’s celebration.”

“(We) recognize that the initial publication of the meal had a negative impact on our community, and for this we are sorry,” DeJonge added. “As a staff, we humbly commit to continuing to learn and grow in this area as we seek to produce culturally competent students who are prepared for lives of service to Christ. We are committed to continuing to meet with and listen to our staff and students as we seek to build and further strengthen an environment that is welcoming to all.”

DeJonge also said the school wanted to acknowledge and uplift the voices of students who expressed their concerns, saying it’s “challenging us as a school community to always be alert.”

“(And) to intentionally think about and address how all aspects of our community, including menu items, may feed into stereotypes that do not create the sense of inclusiveness, belonging and culture we espouse to achieve as a Christian school community,” he added.