Poplar Bluff parents sound off on rodent infestation in school's food storage building

Poplar Bluff School Board holds special meeting to address rodent infestation
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Poplar Bluff parents sounded off Wednesday night at an open meeting after reports of a rodent infestation at one of the school district's food storage buildings surfaced last week.

In January, school leaders responded after food was found in a Poplar Bluff kindergarten center food cooler with mouse feces and urine on it.

The Poplar Bluff R-1 School District and Chartwells food service discussed with parents what they are doing to rectify the situation and ensure that it never happens again.

District Superintended Chris Hon opened the meeting with an apology, and told parents none of that food ever made it on to students' plates, for some the damage has already been done.

But the bulk of the explanation at the meeting for how the facility got as bad as it did came from Chartwells representatives.

"We need to get a change in leadership here because we need that same culture of open communication,"  Assistant Regional Manager Bruce Norman said at the meeting.

Norman said the rodent problem wasn't reported sooner because of a communication breakdown.

In response, Chartwells representatives told parents it has assigned a new food supervisor and district manager to the area.

Chartwells has been the food provider for Poplar Bluff Schools for about 35 years, but some board members say it's time to take a look at other options.

Board member Steve Sells was critical of both the food distributor and the district.

"Get our equipment and facilities clean and rodent free, mice free, and bug free," Sells said. "We should not be dealing with this. This to me could have been prevented."

Chartwells assured parents and staff they are working to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"My daughter cries and she don't want to eat food at school and I don't blame her," mother Dorhonda Thompson said. "As a child I wouldn't want to touch it.

"It's kind of hard to trust in the schools now so with that being said I'm not sure what resolution could come from it," parent April Dare-Dover said.

Butler County Health officials said they will be checking back in with the district to make sure they're meeting clean up requirements.

Health inspectors say that will take place sometime this week.

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