Complaints about spoiled food being served in Lynn public schools has prompted an investigation into the vendors that supply school lunches to the North Shore school district.
Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler said last week that a “full investigation” was launched with Revolution Foods and Chartwells, the district’s meal service management providers. An open house event where families can sample food and provide feedback to those vendors is planned for Nov. 3.
The investigation was prompted by an outcry from some parents who say they’re concerned about the quality of food that’s being served to their children. A group of parents started an online petition calling for the district to provide better meals to students. As of Friday, more than 550 people had signed .
“This petition is to demand the LYNN PUBLIC SCHOOL to have better and healthier food selection for our children,” the petition states. “There have been several times where our children have received food that either expired, has mold and even foul smell.”
Tutwiler addressed the issue in his superintendent’s report on Oct. 14 and said an investigation is underway into the concerns that had been raised.
“Collecting and responding to feedback continues to be the centerpiece of our work,” he said in his report. “With all expressed concerns about meal quality, we have engaged a full investigation with Revolution Foods and Chartwells, the district’s meal service management provider. This approach allows us to change a process if need be or correct a misconception. The feedback can also lead to decisions around what to serve. We will encourage families to continue to provide feedback directly to the school and foodservice team.”
Tutwiler is also inviting parents to attend next month’s open house with the food service vendors . The event will be held in the evening and representatives from Revolution Foods and Chartwells will be there to answer questions, he said.
Kirsten Tobey, co-founder and chief impact officer of Revolution Foods, said in a statement Friday night that the company would review all of its quality and food safety protocols “to ensure this kind of issue will not occur in the future.”
“We, at Revolution Foods, take all issues surrounding food quality very seriously,” Tobey said. “We conduct thorough investigations of all quality issues that are reported to us. We always encourage feedback from parents and students about the quality of our meals.”
Ursula Giroux has a first-grader, fourth-grader as well as an 18-year-old who recently graduated from the Lynn Public Schools. She said her 10-year-old child was served a turkey and cheese sub that made him sick, and that she finds the situation “very disturbing.”
“He was violently vomiting. Within an hour of being home he vomited five times,” she said in a telephone interview. “About three weeks later he had a burrito and he referred to the meat in the burrito as mystery meat.”
Her son ended up feeling sick again and went to the school nurse. “I mentioned to the nurse that I think it’s the food that’s getting my child sick,” Giroux said.
Sophia Seang has three children in the Aborn Elementary School , where she works as a lunch aide.
Seang said she’s seen moldy food has been served as well as “chunky” milk that was clearly not fit to drink.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” she said.
She said one of her children was served a “rotten, spoiled” turkey sandwich on Sept. 17.
“It smelled like rotten meat,” she said. “The odor reeked through the plastic. The meat was brown, dry and stinky.”
Melody Finnegan has three children — ages 6, 10, and 13 — and is also concerned about the quality of the meals that are being served to the kids.
During the pandemic when the schools were offering free meals for pick-up, she was given sour milk and inedible food. She said one time where they were given a hot dog and the bun was soggy and the hot dog meat tasted “gritty and grainy.” No one wanted to eat it.
“We’ve hit a low here,” said Finnegan. “We’re passionate about this for many reasons. The food is just ridiculously terrible. And what safety protocols are in place here?”