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50% of All School Cafeterias in This City Have Mice, Rats, or Roaches (or All Three!)

School cafeteria in New York City

A recent study in 2017 discovered that almost half of the school cafeterias in New York City has had at least one dangerous health code violation which includes evidence of mice, rats, flies, or roaches. This report has got parents worried about their children's health.
Student journalists from the City University of New York Graduate School conducted an analysis of the City Health Department data they obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request.

They discovered that nearly half or 695 out of 1,407 inspected school cafeterias acquired a total of 1,150 critical health violations, 617 of which are even found to have shown evidence of vermin in the kitchen and dining areas. This could lead to serious foodborne illnesses.

Pauliina Siniauer, 36-year-old CUNY Journalism school student who produced the report with other students for CUNY's NYCityNews Service, said "It’s a health risk. Critical violations can get kids sick. We found that kids were vomiting and ... getting sick from the food."

One of the worst cases is the Middle School 137 in Ozone Park, Queens, in which inspectors found about 1,500 flies in the cafeteria. After four days and two more inspections, the school staffers cleaned the mess up.

The parents were disgusted about the report but they weren't really surprised. Solomon Randas, a 54-year-old father, recounted the 'horror stories' that his 14-year-old son says about flies and roaches in the school he attended in last year. What his 11-year-old daughter says is the same.

Moreover, parents with children studying at Public School 770 in Brooklyn said they didn't know about the inspection and the horrid findings. Michelle Machado, 38-year-old mother of two students in PS770 said, "This is the first time I’m hearing this. Would the school be honest and tell me about this? I don’t think so."

In a statement, City Education Department spokesman Michael Aciman said that approximately 98% of the schools passed their inspections, which is almost the same as B or better in restaurant ratings.

He added, "Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of students and staff. We work closely with the Department of Health to immediately investigate and address any violation."

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