How do you like your eggs? In Marietta school cafeterias, expired. Really green eggs and ham.

The eggs may really be green in Marietta where the schools were serving expired food to students.

The eggs may really be green in Marietta where the schools were serving expired food to students.

May I tip my hat to former Marietta City Schools warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter who took his complaints about the schools there serving expired food to WGCL-TV after he got no response from the system.

And may I suggest that the system should consider whether it is safe for the children of Marietta to have people in the food service division who order workers to serve expired food.

Superintendent Emily Lembeck dropped the ball on this one, initially denying that expired foods were being served. Now, she needs to act decisively before all the children in Marietta start bringing their lunch — which is what I would be doing right now if I had children in the system.

According to the AJC:

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck said inspections at two school cafeterias confirmed claims that former warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter relayed to the news station.

He said district management had told workers to serve expired food, including scrambled egg mix, cheese, turkey loaf and yogurt.

Clotfelter told CBS Atlanta he turned to the media because school officials did nothing when he reported expired food was being served. The news station also noted the school cafeterias had passed Cobb County health inspections that include looking for expired food.

Lembeck wrote she had ordered an investigation, according to a copy of the letter posted on the station’s website. Lembeck could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Lembeck initially discounted some of the allegations raised in e-mails from food service workers that some of the expired items were safe because they were frozen, according to a Sept. 24 letter to CBS Atlanta.

Three days later, however, Lembeck wrote again, saying that the board’s attorney and human resources director had found expired food in the kitchens at two schools.

“It appears that quality control efforts (which are intended to prevent the instance of expired food being delivered to and accepted by the kitchens) are not working in all instances. I am displeased and disappointed to learn this information,” Lembeck wrote.

39 comments Add your comment

V for Vendetta

September 29th, 2010
10:21 am

And this will be the last anyone hears of Howard Clotfelter.

I’m not surprised by this. I’m sure there are seven or eight redudant positions in their central office, and, instead of cutting them, they serve children expired food.

Just think of how much money could freed up in a monster district like Cobb or Gwinnett! (If they disposed of redundancies, not served kids expired food! :-) )

What's Best for Kids?

September 29th, 2010
10:41 am

Yes, V,
Mr. Clotfelter will probably get the axe, but Lembeck will get a raise. If things were as they should be, Lembeck will get the axe, and Clotfelter will replace her.

Dr. Tim

September 29th, 2010
10:44 am

Save a buck, sicken a kid. I worked in public schools for more than fifteen years, beginning in the seventies. School food has always been, at best, marginally healthful and/or nutritious. Around 1975 a decision was made to serve “what the kids willd eat,” which led to daily doses of tacos, pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers and fries. Nutrition and healthy food education went out the window. Now, in these days of nudget cuts, I am sure it is even worse. The main thing that surprised me about this story is that Marietta was serving real eggs!


September 29th, 2010
11:00 am

What’s the free/reduced lunch percentages, of the two schools, where the expired food was being served?

Did they have an extreme absentee rate?

I wouldn’t serve expired food to a pet, least humans.

Eddie Longs Cadillac

September 29th, 2010
11:00 am

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck should be terminated immediately.
Warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter should receive a promotion.
And I should get to keep my Caddy!


September 29th, 2010
11:40 am

Anyone that has ever spoken with Dr. Lembeck would be impressed with her focus on putting kids first. In any large organization, the person at the top does not check all the i’s and t’s. They lead a staff that is supposed to take care of the details. I would expect that because her actions will most likely be personnel actions, they will not be public, but she is probably as horrified as anyone with this situation.

Set the snide comments aside. Clotfelter brought a bad situation to light, and those that ignored his original escalations should be dealt with. In the mean time, Dr. Lembeck’s time will be diverted from educational matters to those of running the cafeterias. We have all seen expired food in our cupboards or in stores. The staff needs to do their job, which should inlcude checking expirations dates. Do we really expect Dr. Lembeck to do this as well?


September 29th, 2010
12:10 pm

Now, exactly what “warehouse manager” is expected to do? Wasn’t it within his power not to store (or throw out) expired food items? Or was he a “manager” only by name and actually just a “yes” man for all other departments?


September 29th, 2010
12:54 pm

It looks like Ms Lembeck needs to wipe the egg off her face………..

"Former" ? warehouse manager

September 29th, 2010
12:58 pm

Maybe I’m missing something, but the first sentence above says…..”May I tip my house to former Marietta City Schools warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter….as in “former”, not current.

I’m assuming the “tip my house” reference is from Dr. Suess.

Certainly there should be criminal charges, but since school system cronies were allowed to police the situation for themselves, any evidence is now gone. Slap on the hand for those involved is probably going to be the punishment. Same for health department inspectors.

Maureen Downey

September 29th, 2010
1:03 pm

I am also wondering about the “former” and trying to find out how and why that happened.
And, no, “tip my house” is not a reference to a whimsical Dr. Seuss line, but a failure on my part to see that spell check changed a garbled attempt at hat — written while I was eating yogurt at my desk — to house.
I have corrected. Thanks

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Smith, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: How do you like your eggs? In Marietta school cafeterias, expired. Really green eggs and ham. [...]

re: "Former" ? warehouse manager

September 29th, 2010
1:37 pm

I have verified he is a “former” manager who left in 2008 with a disability. His wife is currently employed with the Marietta School System as a cafeteria worker.


September 29th, 2010
2:51 pm

You know I have consumed many edible items that were past the recommended due date for consumption. I even had some milk in my coffee that was 5 days past due; the horror! My mom used to pack my lunch for me everyday and I don’t remember have these types of crisis happening. When we stop accepting responsibility for ourselves and expect others to be responsible we will have problems. Has anyone gotten sick from this??

David S

September 29th, 2010
3:01 pm

Is there ever any positive news coming out of the public school system?

Maureen Downey

September 29th, 2010
3:08 pm

@David S:

Marietta sixth-grader Julianna McNeice, 10, prepared for competition at the Macy’s national spelling bee in an unusual way: She went to a show the night before and stayed up until 1:00 a.m.

She and her parents were, after all, in New York City, and somehow they scored tickets to “Wicked.” No way were they going to miss that.

“We are not your typical spelling bee folks,” said her mother, Laura McNeice.

So, after a six-hour tour of the city and a late night on Broadway, they tucked in for the night at a Sheraton hotel. The next morning they made their way to the Macy’s in Herald Square and a showdown against 28 other orthographic prodigies from around the country.

Julianna (everybody calls her “Jules”), a student at Dickerson Middle School, claims she was nervous. Her mom doesn’t believe it: “She’s very calm under pressure.” That’s because Jules doesn’t drill, go over word lists or do any other special work, unless you count the amount of time she spends reading.


September 29th, 2010
3:11 pm

1) This shows how things are run when no one is watching the bottom line. A govt budget encourages the spend more attitude because what you spend this year is what next years budget is based on. So they buy excessive amounts that would never be used. If profit is involved those in charge would insist using what you got before more is spent.

2) Dates on many packages mean “use or freeze by” and if frozen it could last another 2 years depending. I heard one of the items was sliced american cheese … I don’t care the date listed, if sliced american cheese looks fine, it is fine.

3) most expiration dates are arbitrarilly set by the mfg to, sell more, and cover their butt in a suit.


Johnny Stingray

September 29th, 2010
3:41 pm

I do not like this with a goat.
I do not like this on a boat.


September 29th, 2010
3:43 pm

The school system is obviously ordering too much food and the kids are not eating it fast enough. Recently I have noticed many perishible items in Walmart, Publix and Kroger that are past the ‘use by’ date – they are not even reduced for a quick sale. Obviously people aren’t eating as much period nowdays, why all the expired foods in the schools and in the grocery stores?

PS – glad I am not married to David or Pluto. Bet their wives can’t stand their attitudes!

David S

September 29th, 2010
3:46 pm

Maureen Downey – While I certainly have praise for the child, this is a reflection of HER efforts and HER parents’ committment to their child’s home learning. The school did not win the spelling bee nor do I suspect that 300-400 page reading assignments are part of the curriculum.

I have no doubt that plenty of kids can excel despite the inherent problems of government run schooling. Certainly a free market approach would have its problems, but those problems would not be sustained with more tax money but would rather be weeded out by a competitive market that would be present to address the needs of dissatisfied customers who could pick up and leave with their money.

Billy from Dip

September 29th, 2010
3:51 pm

Isn’t Clotfelter a character in Dr. Suess books. Amazing coincidence.

Harvey Fong

September 29th, 2010
3:52 pm

Something smells fishy here.

David S

September 29th, 2010
4:16 pm

Maureen, I guess the molestation charges against the former volleyball coach (Susan Rene Hensley I believe) from Dickerson Middle School would balance that story out?

Its never been about perfection from my perspective, nor have I even suggested that perfection would result from a truly free market. It is about freedom, personal responsibility, and choice. None of those are present in the current system and that is fundamentally wrong.

Maureen Downey

September 29th, 2010
4:48 pm

@David, I think she was the coach at Walton, which, by the way, is an example of a very high achieving public school. I would not rank schools or churches by a few errant adults; you can find such people in private and public institutions.


September 29th, 2010
5:06 pm

David S – good news about public education does not sell newspapers or get viewers to watch network news anchors.


September 29th, 2010
5:17 pm

OK! How do you like those government schools? Somewhat shocked that this occurred in Cobb County. Who is ultimately responsible for these ‘lunch rooms’? And please, do not come back with an excuse of ‘LACK OF FUNDS’. Are the administrators simply not trained to do the job they are hired to do?? How much does this superintendent make from the taxpayers each year??

David Sims

September 29th, 2010
5:17 pm

Just a quick identity check.
I am not David or David S.
I don’t post here under any name except “David Sims.”

Okay, having said that, I’d be willing to take the expired cheese off the hands of the Marietta school system. If it’s mouldy, I’ll trim the mould off. If the rest of it smells okay, I’ll melt it on toast and eat it. I’ll pay the postage to mail the cheese, up to $100.


September 29th, 2010
5:45 pm

It’s quite rude of you to play this off on Dr. Suess’s _Green Eggs and Ham_. His were not spoiled, and I can send you a recipe for Green Eggs and Ham that is quite delicious.


September 29th, 2010
5:49 pm

Come into the new century, cafeteria food served where I work is low fat, baked not fried, more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain…before it is placed on the menu it must meet certian guidelines for fats, sugars, and such…students chose what they want to eat not forced to take and eat on the trays like when I was in school in the late 60’s early 70’s… managers are asked to talk about good choice in classrooms and students are introduced to new fruits and vegetables. I am so tired of when articles come up about child weight and health problems the school meals are blamed….granted we are talking about expired food here in school but I would put up most school policies in handling food agianst your favorite resturant any day.

David Sims

September 29th, 2010
6:26 pm

Yes, indeed. Cobb County, Georgia, has some very good high schools. And it spends only $8815 per pupil, much less than the $13150 that the Atlanta Public Schools get. Could it be that the racial composition of the students of these schools has something to do with their high achievements?

Cobb County High Schools.

Walton High School (2555 students).
76% White, 14% Asian, 5% Black, 2% Hispanic.
2009 SAT average: 1722. (Say… that’s pretty good.)
2007-8 GHSWT results, 11th grade, writing, meets or exceeds standard.
All Students, 96%
Female, 96%
Male, 96%
White, 97%
Asian, 96%
Hispanic, 93%
Black, 86%

Pope High School (1781 students).
83% White, 6% Asian, 6% Black, 3% Hispanic.
2009 SAT average: 1656.
2007-8 GHSWT results, 11th grade, writing, meets or exceeds standard.
All Students, 98%
Female, 98%
Male, 98%
White, 98%
Black, 96%
Asian, 95%
Hispanic, 94%
(They must select their Blacks very carefully. I don’t know of any other school where the Black students out-achieved the Asian students.)

Lassiter High School (1947 students).
88% White, 4% Asian, 7% Black, 3% Hispanic.
2009 SAT average: 1658.
2007-8 GHSWT results, 11th grade, writing, meets or exceeds standard.
All Students, 96%
Female, 98%
Male, 95%
White, 97%
Asian, 95%
Hispanic, 92%
Black, 89%

Several other high schools in Cobb County seem also to be quite good:
* Woodstock (2247 students)
* Kell (1741 students)
* Wheeler (1888 students)
* Sprayberry (1642 students)

Below the City

September 29th, 2010
6:32 pm

What? No TEACHERS involved? Are you sure it’s not a teacher’s fault? I bet if you look hard enough you will find TEACHERS are to blame. Anything that goes wrong within a school system gets blamed on the TEACHERS! We’ll wait and see…

David Sims

September 29th, 2010
6:36 pm

Oops. Sorry. Woodstock High School is in Cherokee County, as is Etowah High School (2060 students), which also seems to be doing well.


September 29th, 2010
7:09 pm

One of our cafeteria managers was caught “recycling” uneaten food. Yet, she continued in her job.


September 29th, 2010
9:25 pm

@David S, I’m assuming you didn’t read the post just before this one where Maureen wrote about the high school of 4100 students that has made huge strides in reading and writing because the teachers saw a problem, developed a solution, put it into action, and GOT RESULTS. That, to me, is some of the best news ever to come out of our public schools.

pink lady

September 29th, 2010
9:51 pm

Enter your comments here

another comment

September 29th, 2010
9:59 pm

My daughter recently found green on the inside of her corndog at a Cobb County Elementary School.


September 29th, 2010
11:08 pm

To the folks that see nothing wrong with serving expired food to students. Do you really want to take the risk of a child contracting salmonella or e colli? An adult may have an immune system that can handle some bumps like spoiled food but kids aren’t so lucky. They can’t fight off something like that as easily. I don’t think anyone wants to put them in jeopardy.

I remember getting food poisoning from bad barbecued chicken when I was in junior high. One of the worst nights of my life. I would not wish that fate on anyone, especially when it can be prevented.


September 30th, 2010
5:57 am

Cut the mold off? Depends on the type of cheese. Soft cheese, once moldy should never be eaten. The threadlike roots will travel thru the cheese. Hard cheese, only if you can cut the roots out and even then people that have any form of mold allergy could end up really sick. Best to throw it out.


September 30th, 2010
8:36 am

@ Yuck You’d lose that bet.
@ Tuckergirl The probablity of salmonella or escherichia coli infecting food has little to do with the “use by date” unless contaminated during packaging. The freezing or canning as well as pasturization processes helps ensure safety.

cafeteria manager

September 30th, 2010
9:01 pm

Marietta City Schools are in a different system as Cobb. Just thought I would add that. I do enjoy the comments, on AJC better than others.