Children at several schools in a rural Tennessee county were served six-year-old meat, and at least one cafeteria manager told the school's cooks to put gravy on the meat to cover up the taste, WBAY (Green Bay) is reporting.
Michael Herrell is a county commissioner in Hawkins County, in northeastern Tennessee. He's also the parent of at least one child in Hawkins County schools. Last week, he received the following picture from an anonymous cafeteria worker at Joseph Rogers Primary School, one of the county's schools.
The cafeteria worker told Herrell that the meat had expired in 2009 and that his or her school threw it out. Other schools in the district, however, did not. According to WBIR (Knoxville), all other schools in the county served the meat. In one school, a cafeteria manager told the school's cooks to just add a little gravy to cover it up.
"The actual woman making a stink about it said it smelled so bad they made gravy to put over the meat to give it a smell and give it a better taste."
Herrell is concerned that the kids in his district - many of whom live in poverty and may not be getting good nutrition at home - are being served questionable meat at school.
"We have a lot of kids that go to school, and that might be the only meal they get all day long. And it upsets me that these kids are going to school to get that meal. It just didn't go over well with me when I heard we were feeding these kids meat that's dated 2009."
Hawkins County Director of Schools Steve Starnes insists that the six-year-old meat was safe to serve.
"There were some meats with dates of 2009, 10, 11 in the freezer. Our child nutrition supervisor had the cafeteria managers look at the meat, do the tests, and see if it was OK. The decision was made to serve it."
However, moving forward, the Tennessee school district will take a closer look at their meat inventories.
"As material comes in we will be serving it in that time period and we will have a strict adherence to all USDA guidelines, meaning 12 months on meat. We want parents to feel safe that when they are sending their children to school, we are providing them with a quality food service program."
The Tennessee school district will be holding a public meeting with parents tonight to discuss how the six-year-old meat got served, and to discuss the new guidelines.
[Images courtesy of: Shutterstock/PathDoc, WBAY]