Ukyia Davis is a freshman at Saginaw High and she thinks her school cafeteria deserves an A plus.
“It’s very nasty to be eating in a dirty cafeteria, but our cafeteria is pretty good, it’s clean,” Davis told TV5.
In Flint, Valor Goforth thinks the same about his cafeteria at Southwestern.
“It’s clean and it's good," Goforth said.
But are they right? Are their schools as clean as they think? And how do schools across Mid-Michigan stack up?
To find out, the I-Team looked at the online records for five of our biggest counties.
But first, we needed to understand how cafeterias are inspected.
The I-Team caught up with health departments in both Saginaw and Genesee County to figure it out.
Genesee County Environmental Health Director James Henry explained.
“We do routine inspections approximately every six months, 180 days, not to the day. Facilities, they’re unannounced so the facilities don’t know we’re coming," Henry said.
Inspectors then walk through the cafeteria looking for any violations.
Violations are broken into three categories: Core violations are for maintenance and sanitation. Foundation violations are for anything that leads to the worst of the violations, called priority. Priority violations are problems that could lead to contamination of food or make people sick. For example, not wearing gloves, failure to keep food at a proper temperature, or not keeping utensils and equipment clean.While most schools in Mid-Michigan did pretty well in these areas, some still had some serious violations worth looking at.
“We ask that those priorities are corrected immediately,” Henry told TV5.
The I-Team found that Davis’ school, Saginaw High, had two priority violations in October at their last inspection.
They were for a washer and fridge that needed to be fixed. Those could lead to kids getting sick, but were corrected on the spot.
Something parents TV5 talked to were happy to hear.
“I appreciate how they handle things in the kitchen. It’s nice and sanitary. It’s very clean and for so many years now. I can trust them,” said Beverly Cain, Saginaw High parent.
Chris Klawuhn is with the Saginaw County Health Department. He attributes their success to continued training.
“You want that level of training and that level of expertise at each school so they are required to have a certified manager at each location," Klawuhn said.
So, what about Goforth and his school, Flint Southwestern?
The I-Team found out since 2012, six out of their 13 inspections noted mouse droppings in the cafeteria.
The Genesee County Health Department said with older buildings like Southwestern, it’s not uncommon for them to have reports like these. But what is important is they work directly with the schools to fix any problems and fix them quickly.
“We might have them contract with a pest control company within 24 hours. Then they’ll show us with a contract or receipt that they had a pest control company come out, and usually that takes care of it,” Henry told the I-Team.
And that’s exactly what happened at Flint Southwestern.
Since consulting with pest control they’ve passed their last three inspections with flying colors.
Goforth is not surprised because he said the cafeteria staff is always working hard.
“Every time we’re done they always pick up trays and scrub it till it’s nice and clean," he said.
Parent Veronica Wilder is relieved to hear the problem was fixed before her son went to the school.
“Oh, that do make me feel a lot better if they did something about it now, yeah, that’s really awesome," Wilder said.
And those are the type of responses health departments hope for.
Even though they inspect schools twice a year, they say it’s never a bad idea to be extra careful when it comes to something as important as your child’s safety.
“If they’re looking for more information, absolutely, give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk to any concerned parent regarding the school cafeterias,” Henry said.
Below you will find links to inspection reports in several Mid-Michigan counties.
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