On January 30, a Washington-based national watchdog group released a report assessing the sanitary conditions of school cafeterias in 20 school districts across the nation. Hartford was one of the districts examined. Based on the criteria used in the report, Hartford had the highest number of “violations” of all the districts, giving the impression that food served in Hartford Public School cafeterias could be unsafe.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The food served in Hartford schools is wholesome, nutritious and safe to eat. Great care is taken to maintain the highest possible sanitary standards in all of our food service operations. Following is information provided by Lonnie Burt, HPS Food Services Director.
Hartford Public School food service information:
- HPS serves approximately 20,000 lunches, 8,000 breakfasts, and 4,000 after school snacks daily.
- Meals served in HPS are wholesome, healthy, nutritious, and safe to eat.
- We are surprised and upset by the alarmist nature of this report. Parents should be assured that their children are receiving safe and healthy meals. We take our responsibility to provide our students with safe, nutritious food very seriously.
- Approximately 80 food service employees are Qualified Food Operators which means that they have passed a national certification exam in food safety.
- Food service staff is trained on an on-going basis in food safety standards.
- This year, the average health inspection score is 94 with many schools receiving high 90’s. 100’s have also been received at schools in the district.
- Violations cited on the inspections are addressed and corrected.
- The authors of the report did not contact HPS or visit a cafeteria. Only 20 districts in the nation were reviewed of which only high schools from the districts were evaluated in the rating.
- The criteria used to rate the districts were based upon the following:
- Frequency of inspections from the local Health Department
- Number of inspections conducted per year
- Critical violations cited
- Access to information
- Are health inspection reports available on a web site?
- Food code
- What model was used for health code policy in the state/city
- The weighted average of the rating system was focused more on number of inspections, access to information, and state health code standards not the safety of the food served in the cafeterias.