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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How nutritious

Some news from yesterday's Miami Herald. Dr. Bernstein is right, maggots themselves are not unhealthy its the food they were found in that's suspect. These creatures are usually found in food gone bad. This shouldn't be given to any children, those in Florida's juvenile justice system or not. As the Dr. said, I wouldn't want my children eating maggots.

This is also the second recent story of about a vending company used by the State of Florida that had to be fired. I recall some other stories, but none I blogged about except this one. Are these isolated incidents or does this state give contracts to the incompetent on a regular basis?

Hat tip- Peer Review FL
Open Post- Assorted Babble, Basil's Blog,

Lunch at Thompson Academy, a youth camp for delinquents in Broward County, recently featured some unexpected cuisine: maggots.

One teenager decided he didn't like the extra protein on his green beans and complained to his parents.

The parents complained to Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, which then complained to the state's child-abuse hot line. The Broward Sheriff's Office investigated.

The results: Police with pictures of maggots in the food. The food vendor summarily fired. And the state Department of Juvenile Justice, responsible for overseeing the camp, ``horrified.''

''We are outraged and horrified at the quality of food served to youth at Thompson Academy,'' said department spokeswoman Cynthia Lorenzo. ``DJJ does not tolerate such improper service to youth in our care.''

Lorenzo said the department is still looking into what happened at the Broward youth camp, and administrators have been put ''on alert'' about concerns over food quality at other programs for delinquent youths. The department also is investigating how the incident was handled by the Thompson Academy staff, chief Assistant General Counsel Brian Berkowitz wrote to Legal Aid this week.

The food at the youth camp remains under investigation by the BSO as well, said agency spokesman Hugh Graf, who declined to discuss the case.


And at least one juvenile judge also is paying attention. Palm Beach Circuit Judge Ron Alvarez, who has been a frequent critic of conditions at Juvenile Justice's lockup in his county, said he and other judges are considering asking the department to find another food service company for the site. The facility gets its meals from the same company that served Thompson Academy: Trinity Food Services, based in Homestead.

''The callousness, the disregard for these kids as human beings made me so angry,'' Alvarez said of the Thompson Academy investigation, which he heard about from the county's Legal Aid office.

Thompson Academy is a 112-bed moderate-risk youth camp for troubled boys on the Pembroke Pines campus of what used to be South Florida State Hospital. It is operated under contract with Juvenile Justice by Youth Services International, a Sarasota-based youth corrections company with seven programs in Florida.


On June 15, lawyers at Legal Aid got a call from a parent of a boy detained at Thompson, complaining that children had been served green beans with maggots in them for lunch on June 13. On June 16, attorneys faxed a report to the Department of Children & Families' abuse hot line, alleging the spoiled food constituted child neglect.

Michelle Hankey, a Legal Aid attorney, said in a letter to Juvenile Justice that children also had complained about unspecified ''bugs'' in their food, that food had been served ''spoiled,'' and that it 'did not taste `right' being served.''

''What is most disturbing about the initial results of this pending investigation is that on the date the food containing numerous maggots was served, the staff at the facility did not make any arrangements for an alternate meal to be served to the children,'' Hankey wrote.

''The children were told to eat the other items on their tray besides the beans or forgo lunch if they could not bring themselves to eat anything on the tray,'' Hankey added.

Hankey said several teens complained of stomach ailments to a nurse at the camp, though none required hospitalization.

Jesse Williams, a senior vice president at Youth Services International, said that on the day the police arrived to investigate the complaint -- and confirmed the existence of maggots -- his company immediately fired Trinity Food Services and bought the boys a new meal of roast chicken and rolls.

''The next day, we had a new provider in there serving food -- starting with the breakfast meal,'' Williams said. ``That was the last day they served a meal to kids at Thompson Academy.''

It was by no means, however, the last time Trinity served food to kids in state custody.


Juvenile Justice currently has $3.7 million in contracts with Trinity, which is responsible for food service at all 26 of the state's juvenile detention centers, including in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, said Lorenzo, the spokeswoman. On average, Trinity is paid $2.62 per child for every meal served.

And Trinity continues to provide meals to children at other Youth Services International facilities as well, said Sarah Hada, a publicist representing Trinity.

''Trinity Services Group takes these allegations very seriously,'' Hada said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald on Thursday.

Trinity officials were unable to test the food at Thompson Academy, Hada said, because the youth camp's management alerted them to the allegations three days after complaints were made, and well after the beans had been tossed into the garbage -- too late for testing by a third-party lab, she said.

''All meals are prepared off site at a central facility a few minutes away, and transported via insulated containers, which controls the temperature of the food, either hot or cold, to the academy. There were no other complaints from any of the other facilities that served over 400 people the same meals,'' Hada said.


Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a toxicologist and medical director for the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, said that a child who ate only a handful of maggots would not likely become ill.

''Eating maggots would be gross, disgusting maybe,'' Bernstein said, but added: ``As far as I know, they are not a poison.''

'If a parent called us and said, `My kid ate a maggot,' we would say, 'Well, don't do that.' But we wouldn't refer them to the hospital. We wouldn't expect it to cause any problems.''

On the other hand, Bernstein said, maggots typically grow in decaying food, which could make a child sick.

''More likely, the food made them sick rather than the maggots themselves,'' the doctor said.

He added: ``I don't want my kids eating maggots.''

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