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Schools nutrition staff strives for more unblemished inspections

Perfection is the standard when it comes to health inspections in Beaufort County Schools’ kitchens.

Joanne Kirven, BCS director of school nutrition, said she’s seen firsthand how competitive the school system’s nutrition program workers are about inspection scores — and how upset they get if they receive any score below a perfect 100. In the past quarter, 10 of the district’s 12 kitchens achieved that score. The other two barely missed out — Chocowinity Elementary School earned a score of 99.5, missing half a point because an employee was seen working without a hairnet on. Northeast Elementary School received a 99, losing one point because the inspector spotted an employee placing a package of grapes into a sink specifically designated for hand washing.

“They’re all so mad at themselves for having done that, because they know better,” Kirven said. “I say to them when they come in really upset, ‘Was it a fair loss?’”

Every infraction is taken seriously, Kirven said. The health department has several opportunities to ensure corrective actions have been taken. Kirven noted that the school system’s kitchens are inspected four times a year because they serve a high-risk population.

“Our goal for the next quarter is to see if we can get 100% everywhere,” Kirven said. “It’s the small things that we strive for.”

“I’m so excited that out of the 12 schools, those were the scores from the health department,” Kirven said. “It shows that the ladies and gentlemen out there are working hard, and they’re striving to do the best in terms of health and safety for the children, and I’m really proud that they’ve done that.”