[UPDATED W/DISTRICT RESPONSE W/PHOTOS] Sources: Santa Ana Unified School District Letting Food Rot, Throwing Out Pallets of Lettuce

Updated, with new info on the bottom

ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 16, 11 A.M.: One glorious day–when I'm done with all my Taco USA shilling (have you bought your copy yet?), when we finish some projects 'round here, when things settle down with my backyard–one glorious day, I'm going to start doing a bit more investigative food reporting on SaFII. I realize a lot of you don't want any politics infiltrating your food reading, but tough tamales: there are some stories in which the political definitely mixes with the gastronomical, as is the case in this story involving the Santa Ana Unified School District.

This district, for you neophytes, is a den of incompetence, corruption, and wacky stories–I won't regale ustedes with them here, because this is a food blog after all. And so let's get to the food: sources tell the Weekly that district officials are letting pallets upon pallets of perfectly good food rot, then throw them away. Let's get to the photos, taken at district offices!

So you saw the picture above–that's lettuce purchased to give to kiddies that our source says never got to said kiddies and thus went bad. Dunno…looks good to me! Then again, I like my cheese until it tastes acidic…anyhoo, one bag of lettuce wasted is one bag too many.

Now, the next shot:

That's a hell of a lot of lettuce. And there's more where that came from, waiting for the dumpster treatment.

Our source tells us all of this lettuce would eventually be destroyed. The amount of food the district destroys is so much, according to said sources, that officials are sending rotted food to individual schools so they can dispose the boxes themselves.

This represents a lot of money wasted by Santa Ana Unified, and a lot of food wasted–this, in a district where bad eating habits are endemic. What the hell?

UPDATE, OCT. 18, 3:14 P.M. The New Santa Ana blog was able to get a response from SAUHSD superintendent Thelma Mendez de Santa Ana, who got a response from an underling. Their response:

After meeting with our Deputy Superintendent, who oversees our Food Services team, he informed me of the following in response to your inquiry:     

“We have been diligently working with the food services department to review and identify operational efficiencies and improvements in the areas of food safety, food costs, and forecasting of student demand. These best practices are designed to build in accountability, identify and reduce waste, and ensure food safety.     

One of the practices implemented just after the school year began is a daily “discard log”, which records the types and quantity of food that is discarded in an attempt to track and reduce waste. Although the District has adopted measures to improve food service operations, it is fully aware that there are still opportunities for improvement.     

The District is committed to continuing best practices that ensure that the investments made to our schools are utilized in an efficient and effective manner that best serves our students.”

Regular speak: we fucked up, we got caught, and we're pissed as hell that we got caught. Sources tell the Weekly that district officials are furiously trying to figure out who's the whistleblower. Stand strong, sources, and keep 'em coming–anonymity guaranteed!

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