Morrison County schools face new inspections

By Chris Schafer

Morrison County schools serve thousands of children warm meals everyday and they are inspected by the health inspector once a year, in the spring. That’s the way it has always been.

Now, things will change.

As of July 1, schools in Morrison County, Minnesota and across the nation will be suspect to two health inspections per year. One inspection will occur in the spring as it always has and now a second health inspection will be conducted in the fall.

The additional health inspection is just one clause of the new National School Lunch Act. The legislation was originally introduced in Washington by Senator Dick Durbin, Dem. Illinois.

Durbin’s bill came in response to an investigation done by the television news show Dateline in April of 2004. During the investigation, Dateline reporters traveled with health inspectors to school districts in major cities across the country to conduct surprise inspections.

Those inspections yielded some disturbing discoveries including: moldy food, food served below safe temperature and rodent feces in both the kitchen and the serving areas of some schools.

A further look into the health records of American schools revealed more disturbing trends.

School districts in Washington D.C. and Nashville failed their health inspections 20 percent of the time. Dallas school health inspectors found at least one critical violation 50 percent of the time. In Phoenix, a critical violation was found 70 percent of the time.

Morrison County schools have accumulated only a couple of critical violations in their entire history. These violations were usually for food being served at a temperature below guidelines or a cleaning solution being too potent. In each occurrence the problem was corrected on site.

No Morrison County school has ever failed a health inspection.

Nevertheless, the legislation will affect Morrison County schools all the same.

For local schools that means a second health inspection. Current budgets allot for the expense of one health inspection a year at $310. A second health inspection will cost an additional $155. Also, in accordance with the new law, local schools must now publicly place the most current health inspector’s report in a publicly traveled place and provide a copy of the report to the public should one be requested.

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