Sunday, December 20, 2015

TMS Food Service Employees: Heroes Among Us

FIRST POSTED JULY 2013
Monday, July 29th marked the start of another school year for the students 
(and employees) of Calaveras Unified School District. 
Toyon Middle School Food Service Facility
16 Years of Noncompliance

The CUSD Food Service employees that have diligently worked (some for years) 
in documented substandard conditions are . . .
Heroes among us.

Monday morning also marked the beginning of the16th year of documented noncompliance for the Toyon Middle School Food Service Facility. The Calaveras County Environmental Management Agency has documented the Toyon Middle School kitchen noncompliance issues since Aug. 24, 1998:

Aug. 24, 1998:
"The kitchen is extremely small for the large number of students it serves. The kitchen needs to be relocated and enlarged." --Paul A. Feriani, Registered Environmental Health Specialist

Dec. 18, 2007:
"The Toyon Middle School is a very small kitchen and does not receive food from the Valley Springs Production Kitchen. They serve approximately 100 breakfasts and 150 lunches. . . The Toyon Middle School Kitchen lacks key items that are required for a Food Facility to properly operate. A hand washing sink, mop sink, janitorial closet, adequate storage and an office/personal item storage area must be installed. The existing kitchen must be increased in size in order to accommodate the items that are missing. A major remodel or a new kitchen is strongly recommended." --Paul A. Feriani, REHS

Dec. 11, 2009:
"The Toyon Middle School is a very small kitchen and does not receive food from the Valley Springs Production Kitchen. They [TMS] serve approximately 170 breakfasts and 250 lunches. . . The Toyon Middle School Kitchen lacks key items that are required for a Food Facility to properly operate. . . The existing kitchen must be increased in size in order to accommodate the items that are missing. A major remodel or a new kitchen is strongly recommended. . . The microwave that is located on the drainboard of the three compartment sink must be immediately removed in order to eliminate the electrical hazard."
--Paul A. Feriani REHS

June 12, 2012:
"On June 6, 2012 the Environmental Health Department performed health inspections at eight Calaveras Unified school cafeterias and the Food Service Warehouse. The inspections were requested by the School District and performed in order to note compliance with California Retail Food Code (Cal Code). Public Schools are classified as Food Facilities in Cal Code and must be in compliance. The school facilities are listed below with noted violations and recommendations to bring them into compliance:

"The Toyon Middle School lacks key equipment that is required to properly operate a food facility. A hand washing sink. mop sink, janitorial closet, adequate storage space and an office/ personal item storage area must be installed. The existing kitchen must be increased in size in order to accommodate the items that are missing. A new kitchen or major remodel is strongly recommended. . .

"During the inspection several ground squirrels were noted again (see attached photograph with squirrel on classroom sidewalk). The ground squirrels are living under the classroom located east of the kitchen. Wild rodents, especially ground squirrels, are reservoirs for bubonic plague. Plague-infected fleas on the ground squirrels can come in to contact with students and transmit infection by their bites. It is strongly recommended that the ground squirrels be immediately eradicated."
--Paul A. Feriani, Registered Environmental Health Specialist

Paul A. Feriani (REHS) CC'd the original June 2012 School Cafeteria Inspection Report to:
     Calaveras Unified School District Board Members
     Mark Campbell, Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent
     Trish Baugus, Calaveras Unified Food Service Office Manager
     Dr. Dean Kelaita, Calaveras County Health Officer
     Colleen Tracy, Calaveras County Director of Public Health

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  • The CUSD school board (with oversight by Superintendents Frost and Campbell) has long ignored the County Health Department’s recommendations and reports of noncompliance for the Toyon Food Service Facility.
  • CUSD had an opportunity to fix this well known and documented kitchen issue at TMS, however,  they instead decided to put in place a $2 million dollar sports-field (even though Toyon itself does not actually have a team).
  • It must be said that the CUSD food service employees that have worked in this very small kitchen are nothing less than heroes. It is not only a an extremely small kitchen (tight quarters), the kitchen is also known for its extreme heat (especially during warmer weather like we are currently experiencing).
  • The Heroes are found on the inside … however, on the other side of the food service counter (the receiving side) you will find 16 years of students having to stand outside in a variety of extreme weather (rain, wind, heat, and cold) in order to purchase food prepared in this small kitchen facility.
  • To add insult to injury the students are regularly required to eat outside (as there is often not enough custodial help to maintain the multipurpose room as an eating area).
  • As mentioned in the above report, the students have to eat outside on tables that have been exposed to campus rodents (primarily squirrels) and stray cats (which are often seen in and around the food court area, especially after school hours).
  • The Toyon multipurpose room was originally built to have an attached kitchen; this space has long been used as the teacher's lounge. If you tour the teacher's lounge you will find (or discover) 2 small offices connected/attached to this area.  The original design (or concept) was for these 2 spaces to be used for walk-in refrigerators and/or freezers.
  • The time has come for Toyon to have a complete (and code-compliant) full service kitchen facility. The CUSD food service employees deserve to work in a healthy, safe and dignified working environment. The students, also, deserve to have a dignified and healthy school environment to purchase and eat their meals. They should not be required to eat outside where extreme weather and rodents make conditions unhealthy, unsanitary, and undignified.
  • Bond money is currently available to upgrade the Toyon Kitchen Facility so that it would no longer be a small, noncompliant out-building, but instead a fully functional kitchen facility connected to the Toyon multipurpose room (as was originally designed). 
  • The CUSD School board and Superintendent, however, are currently strongly considering  to use the remaining bond money ($4 million) to build a performing arts center.
  • As a parent (of a CUSD student) and as a concerned citizen I ask you, the CUSD educational community, how many more years of noncompliance can we expect? When will the dignified and respectful treatment of CUSD employees and students become a reality? Building a performing arts center will not change this unfortunate and undignified reality; building a "compliant" kitchen facility will, however.

TMS Kitchen Facility (Hut)
Producing & Serving approx. 400 meals a day
Heroes among Us.

The Cafeteria Inspection Reports (in their entirety) are on file at the Environmental Health office:
891 Mountain Ranch Road
San Andreas, CA 95249
Phone: (209) 754-6399
Fax: (209)754-6722