Statement in regard to mold on food served at afterschool program at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School

News release

WATERTOWN, NY —  On February 28th a staff member of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County (CCE) addressed the Board of Education for Watertown City School District regarding the quality of food served to students. This statement was not made on behalf of CCE and 4-H. With the severity of the allegations made, CCE immediately started an investigation to determine the validity of this statement. After taking statements from six CCE staff, all with direct knowledge of the meals served in 4-H Afterschool at H. T. Wiley Intermediate, we are now able to report our findings.

We can confirm that the statement made to the Board of Education on February 28th was unfounded and a mischaracterization of the food served.

Regarding food safety, we can confirm one incident where the provided sandwiches had mold growth. This issue was immediately reported to the WCSD Food Service Department; the cause quickly identified as being a result of built up moisture within the packaging; and the issue resolved by the WCSD Food Service Department through a change in their procedures. This incident occurred on Monday, February 27th, 2023 and appeared to spark the statement made by the staff person at the February 28th Watertown City School District Board meeting. Prior to February 27th, there have been rare occurrences of single items being damaged/spoiled. These items have always been within the expiration date stamped on the item and, once discovered, discarded immediately. Regarding food safety, Watertown CSD Food Service Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County stand by the food served as being safe and nutritious.

Regarding general quality of food served, the food is prepared meeting specific proportion and component guidelines set by the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). We appreciate all of your support and patience as we continue to safely serve our community’s youth.