Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And The Dirtiest School Cafeterias Are ... Or Why Hartford Government School Students Should Brown Bag It

Read all about it here: A report issued by a watchdog group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, states that schools in Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., are among those lagging in keeping up with safety inspections and cleanliness.

They weren't counting actual food safety practices in cafeterias, or the number of disease outbreaks from contaminated food, but what they were looking at was whether school districts complied with federal laws requiring school cafeterias to be inspected at least twice per year and if they were also cited for frequent violations of safety standards, or didn't make their results easily accessible to the public.

The report found that 20 major school districts inspected showed wide-ranging inconsistency in meeting health standards. They also found that low performing school districts generally don't comply with federal laws regarding inspections.

Here are the school districts with failing grades in the CSPI's report. The highest grade possible is 100:

1) Hartford, Conn., Grade: 37
2) Washington, D.C., Grade: 46
3) Rhode Island, Grade: 54
4) Dade County, Fla., Grade: 59
5) (tie) Hillsborough County, Fla., Grade: 60
(tie) Minneapolis, Grade: 60

The report cites Hartford Public Schools for holding inspections only once per year, which is half as many as federal law has required since 2004. The CSPI said the district averages a national high of 2.7 health code violations per school and that it maintains no web site for disseminating results to parents. The district serves more than 18,000 meals per day to 24,000 students.

Terry D'Italia, a spokesman for Hartford Public Schools, said the district was "surprised and alarmed by the report." He also claimed that the data in the report are over a year old and that major changes have occurred in the district over that time. He says schools are now inspected twice per year and that they earn an average score of 94 out of 100.
OK Class, can you spell D-A-M-A-G-E-C-O-N-T-R-O-L ?

Five school districts earned CSPI's best overall grades. The highest grade possible is 100.

1) Fort Worth, Texas, Grade: 80
2) King County, Wash., Grade: 79
3) Houston, Grade: 78
4) Maricopa County (includes Phoenix), Ariz., Grade: 77
5) City and County of Denver, Grade: 75

Of the remaining 10 districts included in the report, three earned "passing" grades, in the low 70s: DeKalb County, Ga. (73), Farmington Valley Health District, Conn. (72), and Virginia (72).

Barely passing, with grades in the 60s, were: Fulton County, Ga. (includes Atlanta); Dallas; Philadelphia; Chicago; the city and county of San Francisco; and Montgomery County, Md.

Five school jurisdictions were considered out of the running because of a lack of information: Los Angeles, Cleveland, Boston, New York City, and Florida.

Well folks.. there you have it ... School Dining
Guess I'll head off to my kitchen and make some lunch.