The Hazelwood School District near St. Louis, Missouri is known to youth rights activists as the district that stomped on a school paper’s First Amendment rights and led to the Supreme Court’s notorious Hazelwood ruling. But more recently, this district was the site of a youth rights victory.
NYRA-St. Louis, headquartered in Hazelwood West Middle School, recently succeeded in shaking up their school cafeteria. Students at this school found too few vegetarian foods available in their cafeteria. The school was not honoring students’ dietary and ethical choices.
In response, NYRA-St. Louis President Jaylen Bledsoe presented his fellow students’ concerns to the school district’s Director of Child Nutrition Services and persuaded her to change the district’s policy. As a result of their action, the district agreed that, starting this December, vegetarian foods will be added to the menus in all the district’s middle school and high school cafeterias, giving students a choice at last. Way to go, NYRA-St. Louis!
“I felt it was important for the people who run our school to hear the students’ concerns,” said Bledsoe. “People should not have to go hungry just because they are vegetarian. I’m glad we have some administrators who care enough to listen to their students and do the right thing.”
Though the local chapter has only been active for a year, they are already impressing the national organization.
“With the increased concern about healthy food and obesity, schools across the country have taken punitive measures such as banning packed lunches or suspending students for candy,” said NYRA Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz, “Jaylen’s success reminds us that the best solutions are usually ones that work with students, not against them.”