UPDATE: Dirty conditions at concession stands, is it fixed?

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Six months ago, our team of investigators found that nearly half of all Lee County School concession stands were receiving unsatisfactory health inspections. When we took our findings to the district, it promised to clean up its act.

So far this school year, we found only about one-fourth received an unsatisfactory report. While the issue is not completely solved, the district says it is working on correcting all infractions.

This school year there is a new position titled Director of Safety and Security to oversee all school health inspections.

When asked if the district had made changes to the way it keeps its concession stands clean Director of Safety and Security Ken Dobsen said, “sure, we’ve done quite a few things to make those changes including the school district inspectors. They go out and look at the concession stands and inspect the cafeterias.”

Dobsen also told us, “We’ve really got the communications down better. Obviously we still had some that are unsatisfactory. I think there was an expectation that that could happen, but certainly our goal is to make sure that every time we have an inspection that it’s satisfactory.”

This fall, all four stands at Dunbar High School received an unsatisfactory report on the first inspection. But now if a report comes back unsatisfactory, Dobsen immediately alerts the athletic director and principal so they can quickly fix the issue. He admits, there are challenges. The stands are typically volunteer-run and some are inspected during months when they are not operational.

“I think it’s a kind of a learning curve for all of us to get where we need to be. I think we’re getting there and I think you’ll see it continue to improve over the next year or two,” he said.

Shortly after our interview at Dunbar High, health inspectors showed back up at the school for a re-inspection and all of the concession stands received a satisfactory report.

PREVIOUS STORY:
(Published May 4, 2015)

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lee County School District said it will change the way it monitors high school concession stands after a WINK News Call for Action investigation uncovered filthy conditions at nearly all of its high school concession stands.

56 ‘UNSATISFACTORY’ REPORTS THIS YEAR

WINK News investigators read through 134 Department of Health inspection reports for the 2014-2015 school year and what we found was disturbing. Of the 134 inspection reports completed to date, 56 of those reports were marked ‘unsatisfactory’ by the inspector. Some of the inspector’s notes included, “dead roaches observed throughout kitchen, roach and rodent debris observed throughout kitchen, moldy fruit stored in [a] GE fridge, mold-like substance in coffee maker, blue liquid in bottle labeled water, dead roach in freezer, rotten food in fridges, and lizard in reach-in.”

The Health Department inspects concession stands at random twice a year, between the periods of October through March and April through September. If a concession stand does not receive a satisfactory rating, the inspector will typically come back about a week later to do a re-inspection. In some cases, inspectors had to do a total of three inspections before schools had cleaned up the stands to meet health standards.

Documents obtained by WINK News show Fort Myers High School was charged $300 this year because the inspector had to come out three times to review four of the school’s concession stands.

DISTRICT: “The report was disturbing at best”

After reviewing the 134 reports and collecting data, Call for Action investigators took our findings to the Lee County School District. In an interview with Dr. Pete Bohatch, the Director of Student Services, he admitted they had dropped the ball.

“We appreciate you bringing it to our attention. This is something that’s unacceptable and we’re on it. I was on it as soon as we got those reports,” Dr. Bohatch said. “Obviously there’s been a disconnect in the process of keeping these places clean. It’s embarrassing.”

Dr. Bohatch said ultimately the cleanliness of each schools’ concession stand is dependent on the principal; however, he now plans to oversee them. Bohatch said after WINK News passed along our findings, he immediately contacted each principal and asked they submit proposals on how to fix the problem.

“We’ve heard from some schools already and one school said part of their plan will be pre-inspection prior to every event and then a post-inspection after every game,” he said. “I will be involved for inspecting that the process will be followed.”

Bohatch, who also oversees the schools’ athletic directors said he will make ‘concession stands’ a standard topic at monthly meetings. He also said they have discussed hosting training on safe food handling for anyone who oversees or volunteers to work the concession stands.

“I can assure you if we’re sitting here this time next year that things are going to change because the message is loud and clear from staff to the principals. Fix it.”

WHERE YOUR SCHOOL RATES

Of the 13 high schools in the district, only three schools’ concession stands passed their first inspection this year: East Lee County, Lehigh Senior and Riverdale.

Cape Coral High School had three unsatisfactory reports on Sept. 9, 2014 at the Indoor, NW and SW concession stands. The issues were resolved by the re-inspection.

Cypress Lake High School had three unsatisfactory reports during this school year. The baseball concession received two unsatisfactory reports. One on Aug. 25, 2014 and another on Feb. 24, 2015. The gym concession received an unsatisfactory report on Feb. 24, 2015. All issues were resolved by the re-inspections.

Dunbar High School had seven unsatisfactory reports this school year. The band, baseball and gym concession were all unsatisfactory on Sept. 16, 2014. Issues were resolved by re-inspection. On March 12, 2015 the athletic, gym and band concessions were marked unsatisfactory. The band concession had three inspections this spring, until it was finally deemed satisfactory on April 21, 2015.

Estero High School had five unsatisfactory reports this school year. The football/soccer, indoor and baseball stand all received unsatisfactory reports on Feb. 5, 2015. The baseball and football/soccer stands had to be inspected three times before health standards where met on Feb. 26, 2015.

Fort Myers High School has received 11 unsatisfactory reports this school year. The athletic booster, band and gym concessions all did not pass their first inspections last September. The athletic booster, band, baseball/softball and gym stands were all marked unsatisfactory on March 25, 2015. All four came back unsatisfactory after a re-inspection on April 15, 2015 and were each charged a $75 re-inspection fee. The stands are scheduled to be re-inspected May 6.

Ida Baker has received eight unsatisfactory reports this school year. On Sept. 9, 2014, the gym, visitor and home concession stands were all listed as unsatisfactory. The same concessions were marked as unsatisfactory two months later. In April 2015 the baseball/softball and home concession stands were listed as unsatisfactory. Those concessions were scheduled to be re-inspected May 1, 2015. We are still waiting for the documents from those reports.

Island Coast received four unsatisfactory reports this school year. The gym and home concessions did not pass inspections on Sept. 4, 2014. Those same concession stands were marked unsatisfactory March 26, 2015.

Mariner High School received six unsatisfactory reports this school year. The gym and marching band concessions were marked unsatisfactory on Sept. 16, 2014. The same stands received unsatisfactory reports this April. They are scheduled to have re-inspections on May 7, 2015. Meanwhile, in February 2015, the baseball stand had three inspections before it received a satisfactory report.

North Fort Myers High School received seven unsatisfactory reports this school year. On Sept. 2, 2014 the band, basketball, softball and quarterback club stands all received unsatisfactory reports. On Jan. 20, 2015 the baseball, basketball and softball concession stands were unsatisfactory.

South Fort Myers High School received two unsatisfactory reports this school year. Both of those were Feb. 5, 2015 at the indoor and stadium concessions.

PROMISE FOR A BETTER FUTURE

At the end of our interview with Dr. Bohatch, he invited Call for Action investigators to come with him, at random, to tour a concession stand next school year after they have changed policies.

“I can assure you this is an easy fix and it will not happen again.”

 

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