Health Department inspections at three of Fordham University's dining facilities last month revealed a (dirty) laundry list of violations, including "evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas, 'filth flies,' and not storing hot food items above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold food items below 41 degrees Fahrenheit." Two things to note here: The cafeterias are operated by Sodexo, a French multinational corporation that has previously been fined by the NY State Attorney General and that is now contracted to run concessions at the soulless new Coney Island. Second: Fordham students are as outraged as they are unsurprised, and they say they've found all sorts of weird stuff in their food.
"I went to the Grille and got a salad," student Michelle FlorCruz tells Fordam's student paper The Ram. "I found a full grasshopper the size of my thumb in the middle of it." She complained and got a $25 gift card. (Not bad, considering they could have told her it was just a misplaced taco filling.) Worse, another student who lifted up the bun of his hamburger to add condiments discovered a plastic nail. "Had my friend not wanted ketchup on his burger and just ate it, he could have choked on the nail or chipped a tooth," a friend tells The Ram. Also, a newspaper staffer once found a pushpin inside a muffin.
One Fordham student, Ashwin Bhandari, tells us, "Basically, we spend $2,400 per semester for literally rat infested, fruit fly laden food, with live roaches walking around ...and on top of that, we're required to pay for a meal plan whether we want to or not." The dining areas cited by the DOH will qualify for a "C" grade if they score as badly on a follow-up inspections. The University's Student Deli scored worst with a whopping 53 point violation (28 points or over qualifies as a "C" grade). "All ‘conditions conducive to pests' have been corrected, including the plugging of all holes and replacement of any missing tiles," the food services general manager insists.
Students have started two Facebook groups to protest the conditions, and another student tells us, "Many students don't have the ability to eat anywhere else but on campus (all students are required to have meal plans if they live on campus in dorms that don't have kitchens, which is almost all of them, and most do.)."
According to Health Department records, NYU's Hayden dining hall scored a 31 point violation on March 25th; violations include evidence of mice, food not protected from contamination during storage, food contact surfaces not properly sanitized. Elsewhere at NYU, The Kimmel, Third North, Weinstein and University Hall all qualified for A grades. Meanwhile, at Hunter College, the dining room racked up 33 violation points after a February inspection.
But that's nothing compared to Pace, where the Health Department inspected the University cafeteria on March 24th and issued 79 points for sanitary violations, including 73 points of critical violations. A Health Department spokesperson tells us, "Among the items cited were violations for hot and cold foods not being held at adequate temperatures, bare hand contact with ready to eat foods, lack of an employee hand washing facility in food preparation area, displayed food not protected from possible patron contamination and various other violations. The establishment was ordered closed for these extensive unsanitary conditions."