Yonkers Principal Talks Love When Warning Students About Unhealthy Foods

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — At one Westchester school, some students say they got a hard lesson in healthy eating from their school’s principal.

Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers says Principal Agnes McNamara became concerned when she saw students eating unhealthy foods at lunch and pulled girls out of the lunchroom to talk with them about healthy eating and nutrition.

“That once we’re pregnant and we’re going to gain another 30 pounds then be 50 pounds overweight and you don’t really find love in that way,” said 17-year-old Toni Ahearn, a student at Sacred Heart.

Fred Gaines, Sr., whose granddaughter attends the school, spoke with CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano about the talk.

“Something about they would never have a boyfriend or they wouldn’t have babies and stuff like that,” he said. “That’s my granddaughter, I love her very much, we don’t talk to her like that because we try to give her self-esteem, not low-esteem.”

When discussing the controversy, assistant principal Pat Raccioppo focused on McNamara’s motivations.

“I think she had a good intention. I don’t think she singled out any one individual. She did have the cafeteria staff put into place a healthier menu,” he said.

The president of the Parents Association at Sacred Heart agreed, saying McNamara was just looking out for her students and encouraging good health.

“She definitely did not mean it to be wrong. She just wants to make sure they’re eating right and doing what is right for them,” said Joan Dronzek.

Others likewise agree with the teacher’s message on healthy eating, but were critical of the message including love.

Raccoppo said McNamara brought up healthy eating after she saw so many kids eating just french fries at lunch. He says grilled chicken and fresh fruit have now been added to the menu.

What do you think of the talk? Sound off in our comments section below…


    You should be ashamed of yourself for writing the above comment !! How dare you make a generalized statement that these girls ‘are “spoiled little brats” and that “chances are they are overweight” How would YOU know if they are overweight or spoiled ? And you know what..what does it matter it they were either?? AND if in fact they were approached originally for their short skirts, then how did the conversation move on to their eating habits. The pure fact remains : if ANY school offers unhealthy food to their students (as mentioned above FOR A PROFIT) then shame on them !! Offer healthy, nutritious food to our growing children !! IT IS NOT THE JOB OF A PRINCIPAL, VICE PRINCIPAL TEACHER ETC..TO TALK TO OUR CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR WEIGHT. If their is a concern about a child’s weight it should be the job of the parents and their pediatrician to address the issue !!!!! IT IS NO WONDER WHY THEIR ARE SO MANY ADOLESCENT GIRLS AND BOYS WITH EATING DISORDERS !!!!! Worry about the kids education, not about their weight !!

    Alumni of Sacred Heart, Social Worker AND mother of an adolescent with an eating disorder

    • Yonkers Truth

      To become a social worker I would assume that you need a fair amount of education but in your case it appears that you can’t spell or use proper punctuation so maybe not. As I said in my previous post, if the parents are falling short or failing in their responsibility to raise their children then it is up to the school to pick up the slack. Part of raising children is teaching them proper eating habits and stepping in when you see a problem, if they become too heavy or too thin.
      This principal tried to do the right thing by her students and it has been blown out of proportion by a small group of students. Michelle obama tells an entire nation that their kids are overweight and that they need to do something to change it or they will have trouble later down the road and nobody complains but this principal pretty much says the same thing and a small group of students and their families have a problem with it. I would guarentee that when obama says it, these 2 malcontents and their families applaud the message but when the principal says the same thing, they cry foul.

  • Yonkers Truth

    You must have a very humdrum life because you are making much more of this than it needs to be. I doubt you are telling exactly what was said, instead you are more than likely paraphrasing what an overly dramatic teen told you was said. If your daughter is overweight and you are doing nothing about it then you should be embarassed that the school needs to pick up your slack and do your parenting for you.
    The bottom line is that Sacred Heart is a private school that your daughter doesn’t have to go to school there. You can enroll her in the Yonkers Public Schools and she can eat to her hearts content and nobody will care.
    How do I know, I am also a Sacred Heart Alum who supports the school and the principal 100 %

  • lad

    The principal had good intentions. The grand father misunderstood the message. I understand his point but he didn’t get it

  • A Parent

    The message was not about healthy eating. The message that was delivered to the girls, and ONLY to the girls, was that they would not be getting married or have children because they were overweight, that they would NEVER get husbands. She told the girls that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see who is overweight. This was done with a raised voice in a hostile tone. This is bullying, and as an educator inexcusable. You don’t speak to children this way.

    As to eating the french fries, they are sold by the school, at a profit for the school, a bit hypocritical. Remove the fried foods from the menu if you are concerned about the health of the girls.

    How do I know, my daughter attends Sacred Heart.

    • A realist

      you clearly have a twisted perception of the situation and what actually happened… high school girls are drama queens and make a big deal about everything… they were originally approached because their skirts were to short, did you daughter tell that part? These girls blew this way out of proportion because as you said, they are just kids. The are ruining the image of that this school has been trying so hard to create, to build and to maintain. Has anyone ever congratulated or said anything good about Sacred Heart recently? Has Sacred Heart received any recognition from their turkey drives? NO. The fact of the matter is that these girls are spoiled little brats who are to ignorant to see how lucky they have it. Chances are they are overweight and they do need to change their lifestyles to have a longer and healthy life. The fact that people get offended by this just shows how low the standards of people has dropped. these girls need to grow up and face reality because if they get offend by a little talk, i feel sorry for them once they enter the real world.

      How do I know, alum of Sacred Heart who helped this school grow.

    • LACMD

      I agree with you 100%. Please see my other comment

  • amp

    i do have to admit…. certain people in yonkers need to lose weight…. there are people who are naturally heavyset but if it does not run in the family dont force it…. i had this one girl tell me she has a right to eat a lot because there are people in poor countries who do not have a lot of food…. a little ignorant in my opinion….. what the principal is trying to say is stay skinny because it is healthier than being heavyset…. and when you get older it is VERY hard to lose it….. and btw i think its disgusting seeing women with their huge rear ends shoved into my face…. but thats just my opinion….

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live