PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hundreds of social media commentators today brought forth complaints about the lunches provided at Peoria Public Schools.

Some parents said they insist on packing meals for their children but worry about other students who rely on the district for daily meals.

“They say that their food is soggy, they say there are ice chips inside of their milk, that some of their bread is molded,” said parent Danielle Moore. “Maybe they are telling me the truth, so I said, ‘Hey, send me your pictures of what you’re eating.'”

Moore said she was appalled at what she saw.

The Illinois State Board of Education mandates a free lunch and breakfast program statewide. Schools must provide five options for lunch, and students can choose a minimum of three items.

Courtesy of the Illinois State Board of Education Nutritional and Professional Standards

However, parents are saying the quality of the food is the reason their children refuse to eat what is offered.

“Nutrition is important, and they’re not getting the appropriate nutrition they need to succeed in school,” said Moore.

In Peoria Public Schools, Sodexo provides the food served district-wide. In response to the social media backlash, the general manager of food services for the district, Mark Streamer, said the meals provided are balanced and meet the appropriate standards.

“Any photo posted that includes only one of the five food items served with each lunch meal does not provide the full context of the meals served to thousands of students every school day. Every meal also features fruit, vegetables, and milk to provide a full, balanced meal. Each of the meals provided to our Peoria students meet the required nutrition, variety, and wholesomeness required by the USDA and the Illinois State Board of Education. To provide for our student’s needs, the food service staff of Peoria Public Schools have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and continue to do so each day to support their achievement.”

Mark Streamer

A Franklin Primary School student even weighed in on her experience.

“Some of the food is bad and some of it’s good. It’s not my lunch lady’s fault,” she said. “It kind of tastes like my mom’s medicine, which is disgusting.”

Students are given the option to bring their own school lunches, but for many, that’s not possible.

“I also worry about the other children who can’t get a lunch sent from home,” said parent Kristen Meikerkord.

Several Facebook comments and messages sent to WMBD said the children come home from school hungry.

Other complaints from parents said students do not get enough time to eat, and sometimes there are not enough lunches for everyone.

However, this was disputed by a Peoria Public Schools official who said, “we are never out of meals. We will always provide a meal to students.