Middle-schoolers told to thank cafeteria staff after maggots found in several lunches

Tanya Edwards
File image of child getting school lunch (Photo: Getty Images)

After several students at Madisonville Middle School in Monroe, Tenn., found what appeared to be maggots in their cafeteria lunches on Tuesday, some were instructed to write notes thanking the cafeteria staff, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

A student at the school, Madison Smith, sent her mother Brandy Shubert, a video Tuesday showing maggots or a similar type of insect crawling around in her granola. 


Then, in a weird twist, after the parents raised the issue with the school, the students were tasked with thanking the cafeteria staff for their work.

Shubert showed the News Sentinel a photo her daughter sent from class, showing assignments written on a whiteboard. The board instructed students, after finishing a math assignment, to “write a letter to the cafeteria ladies” and “use descriptive language” to say what the students are thankful for.

“We are making an effort to be positive,” the note said.

Understandably concerned, several parents turned out to a school board meeting Thursday, to ask about the sanitary conditions at the school.

Shubert and another parent, Misty Neal, showed up, but school board members cut them off, saying the issue had “been addressed” and it would not be discussed further because it was not on the school board agenda.

“They said they contacted the distributor and the health department has already been out there, and that’s all they can do,” Shubert told the News Sentinel. “We were not happy with that answer and so we told them we would go further with the issues and contact the state health department again.”

In a phone interview with the News Sentinel on Friday, school board chairwoman Janie Harrill said the issue had been handled.

She stressed that the company producing the granola was contacted, the health department inspected the cafeteria and gave it a good rating, and then reinspected it when another incident occurred.

A woman claiming to be the manager of the school cafeteria left a message on the school’s Facebook page trying to clarify the situation and apologized.

On Thursday, a couple of days after the granola incident, students found what appeared to be maggots in their blackberries.

Staff removed the blackberries from the serving line. School officials said the blackberries had been washed three times before being served.

One of the student’s mother, Misty Neal, said her son spotted it while eating the school breakfast.

“I was just blindsided by this video that I saw today,” said the concerned mom. “These past three to four days, it’s been really concerning. Something has [to be done]. It just can’t happen again. It just can’t.”

Another mom shared a video of the bug-infested blackberries on Facebook.

On Friday morning, Monroe County schools director Tim Blankenship would not discuss the blackberry incident with the News Sentinel, focusing only on the granola, and explained that school officials believe it is an isolated problem.

Parents and students are left wondering what exactly is going on in this cafeteria.

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