UPDATE - Feb. 12 : We would like to clarify a portion of our school cafeteria story that aired on Friday. After the story aired, a representative of Gill Elementary School contacted Western Mass News. He stated that while one of the individuals speaking in the story, Kelli Fortin, was formerly a substitute in the cafeteria in 2014, that individual did not have a student in the school. While Western Mass News was originally told that she had a student at the school, we have new information that states that she does not. We also wish to clarify that her employment ended at Gill Elementary in 2014. Another portion of our story referred to milk in a Springfield school. That allegation was not regarding Gill. We regret any misunderstanding.
Just one week after our series on school cafeteria violations aired, parents up and down the Pioneer Valley are reaching out with their own stories.
For the last few months, we’ve reviewed hundreds of inspection reports from nearly every school cafeteria in western Massachusetts.
Since our series aired last week, we have heard from dozens of parents from Springfield to Montague.
Many told us they were not surprised to learn about the many violations received inside their children’s school cafeterias.
Our months-long investigation included hundreds of inspection reports from nearly every school cafeteria in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden County.
Documents uncover violations from rodent infestations to improper temperature holding to food contamination.
“She gets stomach pain every time she eats there," said Yadira Nieves.
Now, just one week after watching our three-part series, parents told Western Mass News their reactions.
“I was thinking that it was true what my daughter was telling me," Nieves added.
Nieves, mom to a first grader at Warner Elementary School in Springfield, told Western Mass News that her daughter has had ongoing stomach problems after lunchtime.
“When she comes home, she tells me that a couple of times she has drank the milk from the school and it was sour. I was thinking she was lactose-intolerant, but she drinks the milk here at home and it doesn’t give her those symptoms," Nieves explained.
The most recent inspection report we have from Warner showed no violations, but in March 2017, the cafeteria received nine violations noting expired food and temperature storage.
“The food is all frozen," said Kelli Fortin of Montague.
Fortin’s children attend school in Franklin County. Her second-grader is at Gill Elementary School.
“Chicken strips. They were all grizzly and fat and brown and just not appetizing," Fortin added.
Fortin said she got an inside look as a substitute inside the cafeteria.
“I had to throw a lot away when I did subbing because they were not good to feed kids," Fortin noted.
The most recent inspection report received for Gill Elementary School showed no violations, but it does not appear inspections are being done twice a year as required by the state.
The health inspector for Gill told Western Mass News by phone that a lot of kitchen updates have been made recently.
However, Fortin said a lot more work has to be done.
“The stove only had one burner that was working," Fortin said.
Other parents we have spoken to over the last week told us about ‘lumpy milk’ and expired pastries.
One parent said she pulled her children out of their school to send them elsewhere, in part, because of the issues they were having with their school lunches.
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