We received the following e-mail inquiry regarding the lunch quality and quantity at Ward Elementary School. The author is concerned that the food has been deteriorating at Ward and Dr. Weiss told her no other school is complaining. Have you heard of this?
Hello Everybody – I hope you are all doing well. I have been busy getting ready for No Junk Food Week. In the midst of it, our hot lunch experience at Ward school is deteriorating at a rapid rate. I wanted to know if any of your schools were having problems.
Most recently (i.e. – this week and last week) there is simply not enough food to serve the children in the school. The 4th graders (the last served) are down to two pancakes (minus the “dried” egg – whatever that is — and minus sausage. When that ran out, they were given white bread and american cheese (that’s it). Today children received 3 chicken nuggets (as opposed to six).
For months now the kids are getting left-overs. For example, they have hamburgers “fresh” on Wed. and will get them reheated on Thursday. They have also been served Friday’s pizza the following Monday. I am told that the hot dogs bounce, although I have never witnessed it :). I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. My children do not get any hot lunch this year. I cut out their Friday pizza when Ward school’s milk was found to be well beyond it’s expiration date last year.
I have long been concerned about the quality and variety of the food served by Aramak from a nutritional and taste perspective. However, I am now concerned from a safety perspective. Serving old, reheated and potentially spoiled food is plain unsafe. Not having enough food to satisfy the caloric and nutritional needs of students is beyond reprehensible. For many children in Ward (and the district) hot lunch is their only chance at a “meal” all day. Thus, it is their only opportunity to receive the nutrients they need to fuel their mind and body.
It is an outrage and an embarrassment that Aramak is failing to provide even the “basics” to our children. It is my understanding that there have been problems at Ward school for some time with this food service. I spoke to Dr. Weiss this afternoon and she advised me that she has not received complaints from other schools in the district.
I am wondering if the reason for that is that there are no problems in other schools or that it hasn’t been escalated to Dr. Weiss. If you do have problems/complaints in your school, now is the time to speak up about it. I feel that our children are entitled to a better food service provider and I know that they are out there.
Please share your thoughts with me on this issue. As you know, there is strength in numbers and I feel it might be time for a change.
Please pass this e-mail on to anyone you think I may have missed. (I am working off my e-mail contacts from last year). Thanks so much.
We wonder, is this how the City School District of New Rochelle plans to save money? Interesting that Trinity Elementary parents received the same type of “brush off” from Dr. Weiss, when she was initially approached by a parent from Trinity Elementary School regarding the 4th and 5th graders 15 Minute Lunch (click here). An issue that remains unresolved. Good luck to the Ward families in their efforts.
Note: Mr. Martin Daly, President of the Teachers Union and PTA Co-President was on the original distribution list and is in receipt of the original e-mail.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The question of whether it is OK to reheat hamburgers and hot dogs is “it depends”. Specifically, it depends on how well the meat is cooked in the first place, how long it is left out, how it is refrigerated and for how long.
USDA offers the following food safety recommendations:
Cook Thoroughly: Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 °F. All poultry should reach a minimum of 165 °F.
NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
Reheating: When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs, grill to 165 °F or until steaming hot.
Keep Hot Food Hot: After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer.
Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200 °F, in a chafing dish or slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Serving the Food: When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than 1 hour.
Leftovers: Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).