Video: MS 57 Students Grade Their School Cafeteria

MS 57 Students Grade Their Cafeteria from The News Literacy Project on Vimeo.

By MS 57 NLP Students

New York City school cafeterias are inspected on a regular basis by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, but MS 57 students wanted to do a little inspecting of their own. The following video report was a collaborative effort of the News Literacy Project, the after-school students at MS 57 and Bloomberg News journalist fellows Ellen Braitman, Dave Coffin, Lori Hoffman and Mick Reed.

During lunchtime at PS/MS57 more than 700 hungry students come through the cafeteria. As we continue our investigation into school lunches, we’re taking a page out of Mayor Bloomberg’s book, conducting our own health inspection of the school lunchroom.

We started out by talking to Hassan Tucker, one of the school lunch aids. We asked him if he and the rest of the kitchen staff are following the proper procedures to clean the kitchen.

“It’s cleaned every day. Bleach, get everything clean, sanitized, said Hassan Tucker.

In New York City, school cafeterias are inspected on a regular basis by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Article 81 Cover PageThe cafeteria workers at MS 57 must follow the same rules as all other food establishments in the city. Rules outlined in Article 81 of the city’s Health Code.

“Health policy describes cleanliness as bleach, sanitize all of the tables, wash the tables off, make sure that all the dishes are clean and sanitized and we’ve got to make sure all the food is off the floor like six inches and basically just following all the rules,” said Tucker.

We saw cafeteria workers scrub the salad bar and lunch tables between lunch periods.

The most recent health inspection report shows the cafeteria passed with flying colors.

“Zero, we didn’t have any violations. This school is like one of the best schools.”

This hasn’t always been the case. A report from January of 2010 says an inspection found “vermin activity” and fruit flies. But don’t worry: notes show these were resolved. Even Tucker admits the cafeteria record wasn’t always perfect.

“It’s been in the past, but nothing serious. Mostly when the health department comes in, they just want to find something to make sure the kitchen doesn’t get a good grade,” said Tucker. “It makes them look bad if

The latest health inspection report for PS 57 shows no violations.

The latest health inspection report for PS 57 shows no violations.

they can’t find anything. It makes them feel like they’re not doing their job.

Cafeteria workers wouldn’t let us into the kitchen without first putting on a hairnet. And even then we only got as far as the serving area, where we saw workers wearing gloves and hairnets, as outlined in the code.

We asked Benjamin Kilinski, the school nurse, if he’s ever heard of a student getting sick from cafeteria food.

“If someone gets sick from eating, it’s not always clear exactly where it comes from,” said Kilinski. “You make an educated guess, but I haven’t come across someone getting sick from eating the lunch.”

Kilinski said students should take their health into their own hands – by washing them before they eat.

“The most important thing for people to do is be washing their hands before they handle food,” he said. “And the same thing would be for you before you eat lunch, you wash your own hands because you can get yourself sick from things on your own skin when your eating.”

That’s a great idea! If only the sinks in the cafeteria had soap! When we went to wash our hands before lunch, we found water, but no soap and no sanitizer.

So all in all, how would we rate the school cafeteria? We give it a B.



Kids: No More Greasy Snacks or Candy in Schools!

IMG_0095By Dillan

Greasy food and candy in schools is a major problem because kids need to eat healthy food as well as healthy snacks.

When I interviewed some students at MS 57, some said that unhealthy snacks are not good for kids because they won’t have any energy if the keep eating these types of foods.

Some examples of unhealthy snacks include potato chips and even fruits snacks because they have a lot of added sugar. When you look at the labels on Doritos, for example, some of the ingredients include sugar, artificial color, salt, and vegetable oil. There are 140 calories and 8 grams of fat, or about 8% of the recommended daily fat intake for middle school students.

The list of ingredients in a bag of Lays potato chips also include vegetable oil, an artificial oil that has a negative impact on the body.  One serving has 160 calories and 10 grams of total fat.

When the News Literacy Project students, including myself, interviewed Rozanne Gold, chef and author of Eat FRESH Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs, one of the students, asked “What type of chips do you recommend us to eat?”

“I would recommend you eat fresh vegetable chips,” Gold said. “I think you love chips because they go ‘crunch,’ right? Because texture is a very important part of why we like a lot of foods and the reason why I’m suggesting fresh vegetable chips is that they go ‘crunch,’ too.”

Gold’s chips are homemade.

“If you take a carrot and you peel it and you roll it in a circle and you stick a toothpick in it and you put it in cold water over night and you take the toothpick out, it becomes like this curly cue,” said Gold, describing how she makes vegetable chips. “If you make a whole bucket of those, they taste better than potato chips, and you can put a little salt on them if you want. They’re so crisp and crunchy and this is a natural food product.”

Gold also recommends that instead of eating a whole bag of chips, just eat six.