Salamanca Jr. bill would require city Health Department letter grades for NYC school cafeterias, kitchens

Empty school cafeteria
A bill proposed by Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. would require city officials to publicly post letter grades for public school cafeterias and lunches.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

Parents and guardians may soon be able to see grades, not of their children’s academic performance, but rather the cleanliness of their school’s cafeterias and kitchens.

City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. is proposing a bill that would require the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish a letter grading system, much like the ones used to rate city restaurants, for sanitary conditions of school cafeterias and kitchens.

The bill also stipulates that the city Department of Education (DOE) would be required to post letter grades in a publicly visible location near the front entrances and cafeteria entrances of schools, and to post inspection results of school cafeterias and kitchens on its website. Additionally, the DOE would be required to inform parents and legal guardians if their child’s cafeteria was given a “C” grade or worse.

The bill now awaits a hearing in the City Council’s Education Committee.

This is the second attempt by Salamanca Jr., to get such a bill passed. In 2018, the Longwood Progressive introduced a similar bill, but it stalled when it didn’t gain enough City Council support or from the de Blasio’s administration.

Cleanliness, and in particular, records of infestations of rodents and mice as reported by Gothamist and other outlets, have been a commonplace issue for New York City public schools. The DOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services has been piloting school cafeteria enhancements since 2017.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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