Health Inspector: School Cafeterias Have Come A Long Way

10:59 PM, May 15, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- When it comes to school safety, does your child's school cafeteria make the grade?

Every week, News 2 brings you the Restaurant Report Card. The scores reflect which restaurants have a clean kitchen, and which restaurants need some work.

But after News 2 viewers asked how their children's school cafeterias stack up, Lauren Melvin jumped the lunch line to find out.

Restaurants are required to maintain at least a "C" sanitation grade or else they're shut down. But according to Linda Mashburn, with School Nutrition Services at Guilford County Schools, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction requires schools to earn a 95 percent or better.

And the cafeteria crew at Alamance Elementary School in Greensboro, which earned a 102, will tell you the days of "mystery meat" and questionable cleanliness are just a bad high school memory. Health inspectors are making sure of it.

"The whole goal is to make sure that kids have a healthy, safe, nutritious lunch," said Paula Cox, Senior Environmental Health Specialist with the Guilford County Health Department. "Some of what we do is really just to stand back for a minute and watch and see what's happening."

Cox said school cafeterias are graded the same way county health departments grade restaurants, from the sanitation, to food storage, and food temperatures.

"Bottom line, most of your points in any inspection are taken on how you handle the food," Cox said.

Cox added that every cafeteria manager has to be certified in food safety.

"They take a lot of pride in what they do, so they're aware of what they need to do to keep food safe," said Cox.

The inspections are tough, but they have to be.

"They have a short amount of window to feed a lot of kids, so if they're not organized, that means their breakfasts or their lunches are chaotic and they can't because they have to serve so many kids," Cox said.

Cox said school cafeterias have come a long way.

"There's a lot of times I walk into a school lunchroom and I start to rumble because I get hungry," said Cox.

All 123 public and private schools in Guilford County, and 38 schools in Alamance County, passed their most recent inspections.

In Forsyth County, only one school out of 92 schools earned below a 95 percent.

Carver High School in Winston-Salem earned a 93.5. Officials with Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools said they have a plan in place to improve that score.

You can find your kids' school cafeteria score the same way you track restaurant scores. The links to each County Health Department are on the bottom of the page in the Restaurant Report Card section.


WFMY News 2

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