School Cleared in Claims That it Redistributed Trash Lunches


One Machesney Park mom’s social media post created a lot of polarizing opinions by claiming a local elementary school is taking food out of the garbage and serving it to students. 

“Did she just take that food out of the garbage? She just took that food out of the garbage,” said the voices of astounded parents, watching a video recording.  One parent, Tara Vargas says they witnessed lunch staff doing something unthinkable.

“She went over to the garbage as the kids had filed out and emptied their trays into the garbage,” said Vargas.  “She picked up food from the garbage, multiple items, and carried them back in her arms to the food serving place.”

Tara Vargas is a parent of a fifth grader in Harlem School District 122, who told her that the lunch staff was taking food from the garbage.  Vargas then went to the school to see for herself.

“The kids told us that not only were they doing that, but that they were taking food out of the garbage, which was so alarming,” said Vargas. “We had decided we had to go out there and see for ourselves.”

In the video, it is difficult to see what exactly the lunch staff was doing, but Vargas says she went to visit her daughter for lunch on Tuesday.  That’s when she took the video and witnessed it herself.

“I had seen that they were already taking food from kids at the end of the lunch period and redistributing that food,” said Vargas.

Vargas posted a video on Facebook and it caught the attention of parents and the Harlem School District 122 Superintendent Dr. Julie Morris, who said an investigation investigation began on Wednesday morning.

“As soon as we learned that we certainly made sure that that was not the case,” said Dr. Morris.  “The health department’s [representative] came this morning and conducted an investigation and he cleared us up and said there was nothing found regarding that issue.”

Parents who say they saw it for themselves still express doubts.

“The lunch ladies are not using gloves they’re not in hair nets,” said Vargas.  “Who even knows if they have certification to be food handlers.”

However, Superintendent Dr. Morris says the Winnebago County Health Department monitored lunch periods and their practices, but they continue to investigate

“We take any allegation or any kind of report seriously and investigate it fully,” said Morris.  “Until we investigate and until we have all of the information, I can’t say that it did or did not happen.”

Superintendent Morris also said the Winnebago County Health Department found that all the food was kept at the appropriate temperatures and that the lunch staff was also in order.

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