BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Department of Education, which are both responsible for the well-being of the children in New York City public schools, have failed to keep both families and the public informed about DOHMH’s health inspection results.
Therefore, in an effort to act after conducting a study on the New York City public school health violations, state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), who is the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), teamed up with New York City School advocates to not only unveil “School Lunch Flunks: An Investigation into the Dirtiest New York City Public School Cafeterias,” but to propose legislation that will ensure parents are informed about what takes place in their children’s lunchrooms.
Toya Holness, a spokesperson for the DOE, stated, “We are dedicated to providing students with nutritious meals in cafeterias that are clean and safe, and will work with the Department of Health to make the reports more easily accessible to the public.”
The investigation, which contained data obtained from the DOHMH’s food safety inspection reports of public school cafeterias across New York City, found that Queens ranked second as the borough with the dirtiest public school cafeterias.
In the report, IDC analysts assigned letter grades for cafeterias based on the already established letter grading system that is used for restaurants. Queens’ cafeteria violation results for Fiscal Year ’15-’16 are as follows: 82 cafeterias received mice-related violations, second to Brooklyn’s 115 cafeterias; 40 cafeterias received filth flies violations, second to Brooklyn’s 44 cafeterias; and 105 cafeterias received pests violations, second to Brooklyn’s 147 cafeterias.
In the study, schools are given a score based on how well they follow city and state food-safety requirements. The higher the score, the worse the school performed during the food-safety inspection. For restaurants, dining facilities that score between 0 and 13 points are awarded an “A” grade; those with a score between 14 and 27 are awarded a “B” grade; and dining facilities with 28 points or more are given a “C” grade.
The schools that scored between letters “B” and “C” are Astoria Community Center Leaders in Training GED program in Astoria, which received a B because of its score of 18; Community Voices Middle School in Springfield Gardens, which received a B because of its score of 19; Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, which received a B because of its score of 20; Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, which received a B because of its score of 21; Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, which received a B because of its score of 17; I.S. 126 in Long Island City, which received a B because of its score of 15; I.S. 72 in Jamaica, which received a B because of its score of 16; J.H.S. 141 in Long Island City, which received a B because of its score of 14; JHS 210 Elizabeth Blackwell in Ozone Park, which received a C because of its score of 39; Long Island City High School in Astoria, which received a B because of its score of 24; North Queens Community High School in Flushing, which received a B because of its score of 18; P.S. 306 in Woodhaven, which received a B because of its score of 21; P.S. 35 in Hollis, which received a B because of its score of 15; and P.S. 86 in Jamaica, which received a B because of its score of 20.
After sifting through the 2015-2016 data, the IDC found 31 schools with a final food-safety inspection score of C, with 23 of those schools having violations associated with pests and vermin. Amongst those schools were I.S. 227 in East Elmhurst, which scored a 32 and had seven mice-related violations; JHS 210 Elizabeth Blackwell in Ozone Park, which scored a 39 and had seven mice-related violations; John Bowne High School in Flushing, which scored a 29 and had six violations; P.S. 100 in Ozone Park, which scored a 41 and had seven fly-related violations; P.S. 104 in Far Rockaway, which scored a 37 and had eight fly-related violations; P.S. 152 Gwendoline N. Alleyne in Woodside, which scored a 28 and had six fly-related violations; P.S. 214 in Flushing, which scored a 31 and had eight roach violations; and the least hygienic, P.S./M.S. 147 in Cambria Heights, which scored an astonishing 48 and had eight flies and mice violations.
Because of these findings, the IDC has introduced legislation that will require the DOHMH to inform the public by using this letter-grade system and by posting it in each school cafeteria.
“The IDC believes that this transparency will force cafeteria administrators to clean up their act. We expect our kids to get A’s and we should expect the cafeterias that feed them to work just as hard to make the grade,” the IDC said in a 14-slide PowerPoint with their data findings.
“School cafeterias perform very well on health inspections, with 86 percent earning the equivalent of an A grade on initial inspection compared to 59 percent of restaurants,” a spokesperson said in a statement to the Queens Tribune. “The Health Department and DOE work closely together to correct violations quickly. Letter grades at restaurants are popular because New Yorkers use them to choose where to eat, and that motivates restaurants to do well. Students can be confident that schools are serving food that is safe for them to eat.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or email@example.com