ATLANTA -- Cafeteria workers told horror stories Monday night about conditions inside APS school cafeterias.
But how much is fact and how much is fiction? Our Ross McLaughlin spent the day researching the claims being made by both sides.
If you listen to the cafeteria workers you'd never let your child eat at an Atlanta Public School again. But when you hear from APS officials the problem is with the workers.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
It started last week with a protest outside the home of the Dr. Marilyn Hughes, who overseas Atlanta Public Schools nutrition program. The workers' union claims conditions inside Atlanta Schools Cafeterias are horrible.
"The reality is many of them have been cited for deplorable conditions such as mold growth on the food itself," said Alan Lee, Union Director of American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees.
On the Bull Meter, we give that a 3. Yes, Continental Elementary School was cited in 2013 for mold like growth inside a walk-in cooler. Some deplorable conditions have been reported, like pictures of rat droppings at Cleveland Elementary last September, and roaches being reported in the health inspection report. That school was shut down and the problems corrected, but only 14 schools were identified by the union as having problems.
"Expired food, flies, insects, roaches," Lee said.
True, in some cases, but the union claims "APS's cafeteria scores are lower than ever before." On the Bull Meter we give that an 8 because when we looked at the scores from the health inspection reports from the schools the workers say are a problem, they were all Bs expect for Frederick Douglass High, which was a C.
APS sent 11Alive sent us a document pointing to the food service management contract, the company SODEXO, charged with keeping things right with sanitation and safety. Bull Meter: 2. True.
APS also claimed the complaints result from labor relations issues. Bull Meter: a 7.
"The reality is there are no labor disputes, there are no labor issues. The reality is this, workers just received a 5 percent pay increase," Lee said.
All the concerns are being heard now. So far as we know, the person who audits the private contractor has not be relieved of duty and cafeteria workers who fear reprisal are standing up saying they're concerned about safety.
Sodexo sent us a statement saying, "Sodexo maintains strict adherence to food safety procedures and guidelines that lead to clean, safe operations and nutritious food. All Atlanta Public Schools sites managed by Sodexo have passed inspection this year and are in compliance with health department guidelines.