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Loyola dining vendor apologizes for ‘insensitive’ Black History Month menu

A sign at Loyola's Damen Dining Hall encouraged students to "try our African American cuisine popular in the African American community." | @melaninroses/Twitter

A Loyola University dining hall’s Black History Month menu that included fried chicken sparked complaints from students and alums and, eventually, an apology from the Aramark food service.

A sign posted earlier this week at the Damen Dining Hall on the university’s Rogers Park campus had encouraged students to “try our African American cuisine popular in the African American community,” but many viewed the menu as including stereotypes of black culture.

What was for dinner?

Fried chicken, maple mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens, “black eye peas salad” and grape Kool-Aid, according to the school’s student-run newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix, which first reported the story.

Outrage quickly spread on Twitter, with many critics calling the gesture “offensive,” “racist” and “insensitive.”

Milton Doyle, who starred on court at Loyola and now plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and their G-League affiliate the Long Island Nets, also weighed in on Twitter, sharing his disbelief.

Loyola officials on Friday said the university’s food vender apologized and took responsibility for the “insensitive and inappropriate” signs and menu.

“Recently, our food service vendor Aramark offered a menu in Damen Dining meant to celebrate Black History Month,” the statement read, “but which was also seen as promoting stereotypes of the African American community.”

The university said the sign, which has been removed, was the work of a single Aramark employee.

The dining vendor, in its own statement, claimed the “intention of the onsite team was not to offend patrons, [but] we fully recognize that the execution of the promotion was done in an insensitive way.”

Management planned to “retrain all of our staff” on how to properly promote dining services.