Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:40 p.m. on Thursday with comments from Matt Wilder, Boston Public Schools Director of Media Relations.
After finding four Boston Public Schools with frozen food well past their expiration dates still in their freezers, At-Large Boston City Councilor John Connolly wants school officials to explain how come students are being fed expired food.
Connolly visited the Curley K-8 School, English High School, Orchard Gardens School, and Boston Latin Academy, and found things like expired liquid cheese. He said he saw expired food in every school's kitchen, not just their freezer, said a Connolly aide.
While frozen foods can be served after their recommended expiration dates, Connolly noted that "unsafe food practices could compromise the safety and welfare of students" and that parents and students need to be informed about the quality of food that BPS is serving to students.
Said Matt Wilder, Director of Media Relations for BPS, "(Mayor Thomas Menino) has asked (Superintendent Carol Johnson) to take a full inventory of food in schools. We began that process yesterday (March 2) and we will be doing that in the next few days. We follow USDA guidelines that say this food is safe. No one is questioning the safety of the food. I don’t believe Councilor Connolly is questioning the safety of the food but the nutritional value."
Like Connolly, Wilder posed a question about the food, "Should we hold ourselves to a higher standards? We've been looking at what we’re serving and provide the highest quality of food to students day after day. We’ve beein doing that by serving more fresh fruit and vegetables and having chefs in schools. We are reaching higher every day and we’re going to continue to do that."
Wilder reiterated, "We follow the USDA guidelines, but the question for us - are those guidelines at the level that is high enough for Boston?"
Connolly has requested any and all documentation of food provided by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to BPS related to the purchase, storage, disposal and serving of items that were received past expiration dates. He has requested the City provid this information.
In particular, Connolly has requested information from the City and BPS about any documentation about memos relating to cheese sticks that were not to be served to students on June 20, 2010.
One of Connolly's peers, At-Large Councilor Felix Arroyo quickly championed Connolly's work, "I would like to commend Councilor Connolly for bringing this issue to our attention. I would never serve expired foods to a member of my own family. We should not serve the students that attend the Boston Public Schools food we would not eat or serve our own loved ones. While I have not been blessed with children yet, all of my nieces and nephews that are of school age attend the Boston Public Schools. I am stunned that we may be serving them and all Boston Public School students expired foods."