Like many mothers, Beth Paulette aims to provide her sons with a nutritious and healthy diet. And so when her boys began suffering horrific headaches, she had no idea what was causing them. But then a photograph of her kids’ school meals explained all.
Paulette and her family lived in King and Queen County, Virginia, where her two teenage sons both attended King and Queen Central High School. For the most part, the boys were relatively healthy kids.
In 2015, however, that all changed. Both of Paulette’s sons began suffering from horrific headaches. Soon, in fact, the migraines became an everyday occurrence for the boys, and naturally their mom grew concerned.
A number of factors can cause migraines, including stress, disrupted sleep patterns, dehydration and a lack of proper nutrition. But poor Paulette had no idea what was causing her sons’ headaches.
Then, however, the concerned mom had a breakthrough. When Paulette’s sons began texting her from school, attached to their messages were images from the school canteen. And what they depicted sickened the worried parent to her stomach.
The images revealed that the food at the boys’ school was less than appetizing. In fact, it was in dire need of improvement. From the pictures, it looked like many of the items on the menu were dished up severely burned, and Paulette’s sons had been served pizzas and ribs that were charred beyond recognition.
Looking at the pictures, Paulette couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “They’re awful,” she told WTVR CBS 6 in 2015. “[My] two boys are coming home daily with migraines because they can’t eat what’s on their plates at school.”
Indeed, there was every chance that the substandard food may have been causing her sons’ headaches. According to the American Nutrition Association, hunger can be a major cause of migraines, as they can be triggered by low sugar levels.
Low blood sugar – or hypoglycemia, to give the condition its medical name – can in fact cause nauseating migraines. That’s because when the body’s fuel intake is too low, the brain doesn’t get the levels of energy it needs to function properly.
In some cases of hypoglycemia, headaches and migraines are also accompanied by feelings of nausea, confusion and perspiration. Very low blood sugar can also leave sufferers feeling faint, and, in rare cases, they can even lose consciousness or die.
To avoid hunger headaches, the American Nutrition Association advise eating three well-rounded meals each day. Of course, Paulette’s sons weren’t getting this specified amount, because their cafeteria food was inedible. Consequently, she approached the media to see if they could lend a hand.
WTVR CBS 6 began looking into the issue on behalf of the worried mom. And it wasn’t long before they found someone to corroborate Paulette’s claims. “It looked so unappetizing I could not bring myself to try it at all,” Precious Jackson, another student at the school, said of the slop.
It is important for school kids, in particular, to be well fed, as hunger affects concentration. In fact, studies have proven that hunger pangs can distract teens from their work and make it impossible to focus. Going without food, then, may become detrimental to a child’s education.
Doctor Stanley Jones is the Superintendent of King and Queen County Schools, and part of his job is maintaining the standards of canteen food. Faced with all the evidence, however, he couldn’t deny that something was wrong.
When reporters showed Jones the images from Paulette’s phone, he admitted it was unacceptable to serve such food. He also revealed that authorities had already suspended the head of food services for schools in the county. “If an employee is suspended, generally, it’s going to be related to performance,” Jones told WTVR.
However, it was then that the suspended employee in question came forward to defend herself. Suzanne Gilbertson denied she was responsible for the inedible meals. “My cafeteria employees have always been told if you’re not going to eat it don’t serve it to the students,” she said.
Furthermore, Gilbertson claimed that Jones had actually elected someone else to take control of the high school canteen a few months prior; he further alleged that the person in question didn’t have the relevant experience or knowledge to do the job. Gilbertson also said that when she reached out to the superintendent about the problem he simply ignored her concerns.
Yes, Gilbertson claimed Jones told her that she didn’t have the authority to question her new manager. “I was advised that these employees, they do not report to me, as they report to human resources and the superintendent,” Gilbertson revealed.
However, once again, Jones claimed the problem stemmed from the ground up, adding that the cafeteria team should work together to address the issue. But he also said he would look into the issue of the overcooked food without delay.
So while the cause of the charred food might never be known, at least Paulette had the drive to do something about it. And now, thanks to her, school kids at King and Queen County High School are getting the sustenance they need to complete their days. Food is, after all, the fuel of the brain.