Grading the Lunchrooms

May 2, 2005--Posted at 5:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-- Soy burgers and milk from a carton ... That's a meal kids often love to hate in their school cafeteria, but it turns out region eight lunchrooms aren't so bad

You may have seen national stories about cafeterias around the country that scored low on routine inspections.

So... We went looking for a little dirt of our own.

But... Good news region eight... It turns out they're all pretty clean.

Inspection documents from the Arkansas Health Department turned up only minor violations like leaving a lid of a trash can or a bathroom door open, but no serious mess was reported.

And it looks like region eight kids are eating it up .

"I don't know why i just eat it. I've never brought my lunch because it's good," a student says.
"The lunchroom ladies cook really great food and they do a good job everyday," a student says.
It turns out the kids' opinions were right on target.
Arkansas Health Department Environmental Coordinator Terry Baker says, "Almost all of the schools are in excellent condition. Their staff has been trained which helps them a lot and they wash their hands when they should. They just do all the right things."
The Health Department performs routine inspections on region eight cafeterias.
They say their main priority is to make sure foods are kept at the right temperatures and workers and facilities are staying clean to prevent food born illness.
"We want to make sure that they're not passing any bacteria or disease along to anyone," Baker says.
"I like clean food," a student says.
A child's immune system is especially vulnerable to "not so clean" bacteria that can be left behind on food preparation surfaces and passed along by lunchroom workers.
But the department says lunchroom staff are pretty good about washing up and maintaining a healthy environment.
"I hear that in other states, in some of the larger schools that they really have problems and that is really hard for me to imagine living here in Northeast Arkansas," Baker says.
Now that you know region eight cafeterias are in great shape, join us tonight at ten.
We'll actually put some of these lunchrooms to a different test... A taste test.