Health inspectors have forced New York City restaurants to post letter grades for cleanliness and some haven’t fared so well. Now it appears a few college cafeterias are also failing to make the grade.
The cafeteria at Pace’s Downtown Campus is used by 90% of students. But until a few weeks ago, they were not very happy with it.
“Students would just see dirty clothes on some of the workers, it was just not a place you would want to come and eat,” said Lance Pacheco, the Student Government President, in an on-camera interview with Art McFarland, Education Reporter for Eyewitness News on WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York City.
A Health Department inspection led to a one-day shutdown of the cafeteria, followed by a student protest.
“People were shocked, it just blew up on Facebook. Some people said they were not surprised, others said they were surprised,” said Michael Wellbrock, a Pace student.
A new grade for the Pace cafeteria is still pending. But, there was a complete management change, after the shutdown. “It is a very different place now,” Pacheco said. “Things that were not there with the other company are there now,” Wellbrock said.
The Health Department says it is pleased that the standards and transparency of its food service grading system can lead to positive results.
In New York City, where health inspectors have begun requiring restaurants and some food services to post letter grades for cleanliness, students have a new reason to gripe: bad report cards. It is unclear whether health inspectors are citing more violations because of the rating system they introduced last summer, or whether conditions in campus kitchens have taken a slide.
At Pace, an inspection of the main cafeteria on March 24 resulted in 79 violation points and the city’s decision to shut it. City inspectors found soiled wiping cloths and inadequate provision for hand-washing, as well as cold and hot food held at unsafe temperatures.
After the cafeteria reopened the next day, students organized a boycott and laid out demands for a new food provider. Within days, the university’s president and top administrators appeared at a town-hall-style meeting, assuring students that a new operator had been brought in temporarily and that they could help choose a permanent replacement.
“I was actually shocked at how well they responded,” Lance M. Pacheco, executive president of the student government association, told The New York Times.