Since 2011, 244 of Chicago’s 681 schools have failed at least one health inspection, according to a CBS Chicago investigation.
The school with the worst record, Anton Dvorak Elementary, has failed city health inspections six times since 2011. Its violations run the gamut from no hot water in bathroom sinks to food stored at unsafe temperatures and over 200 rodent droppings found in food service areas.
Cameron Elementary was home to a mice dropping infestation, with “more than 600 scattered” droppings, according to inspectors.
At Emil G. Hirsch Metropolitan High School, students actually got sick eating rodent droppings after mice found their way into a box of bagged nachos. In the aftermath of several students becoming sick and two being taken to the hospital, the kitchen was shut down and the school hired a new principal and kitchen staff. Six former kitchen workers may also face disciplinary action.
According to CBS Chicago, another school to fail inspection was Farragut Academy, where inspectors say there were too many droppings to count. At Songhai Learning Academy, a live snake was discovered stuck to glue paper in the kitchen. Meanwhile, at Ariel Academy, inspectors heard “gnawing sounds” emanating from the wall.
“Makes you wonder if you are talking about a Chicago public school or a Chicago public zoo,” food safety expert Kantha Shelke told CBS Chicago.
Leslie Fowler, who was appointed executive director of Nutritional Support Services for Chicago Public Schools two months ago, plans to institute changes that will improve the district’s school lunch system and help prevent future violations.
All of the schools mentioned in CBS Chicago’s report eventually passed inspection.
Such unsanitary conditions are not limited to Chicago’s schools. In April, an investigation by WFTS-TV that examined food safety reports from counties all over Central Florida revealed that Hillsborough County — the largest school district in the area — had more unsatisfactory health inspections than any other district, with 17 schools failing at least one food inspection.
Some of the more serious violations included a stop sale on food at dangerous temperatures, no hot water, and roaches and ants in the kitchen.