Lab Schools failed health inspection; new food services vendor to begin in August

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 5835 S. Kimbark Ave. – Courtesy of University of Chicago

Staff Writer

Correction:  The Herald originally reported that Lab Schools had fired Aramark because of the failed inspection. This is incorrect. Lab Schools announced on May 25 that it hired another vendor, Quest Food Management, to begin in August, Lab Schools did dismiss Aramark but not because of the violations uncovered during the health inspection. The Herald regrets the error.

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 5835 S. Kimbark Ave., failed a Chicago Department of Public Health food inspection on May 22, according to public documents.

The canvas review found mice droppings scattered under shelves in the dry storage area, in the kitchen’s rear prep area, rear storage area, serving area and inside of cabinets in the self-service area. The report charged the manager to hire exterminators. Additionally, the report indicated that interiors and exteriors of all cooking equipment, fryers, prep tables, counters and beverage machines needed to be cleaned, as did all floors under equipment, walls and floor drains.

A University of Chicago spokesman said that the Aramark Corporation did not inform the Lab Schools about the report for several days. These developments come on the heels of the revelation that Aramark’s contracted services for Chicago Public Schools had been a system-wide failure. All public schools, including those in Hyde Park and Kenwood, merit thousands in daily health department fines.

On May 25, the Lab Schools announced it had hired Quest Food Management, which will begin work this August before “a thorough and inclusive selection process” for another vendor in August 2019.

“The Laboratory Schools are committed to delivering a food service program that is consistent with our mission to serve the youngest members of the University of Chicago’s academic community,” said Jeremy Manier in a written statement. “Lab acted swiftly upon learning of the violations last week, immediately ensuring the entire area in scope for such inspections was cleaned,” he said, adding that sanitization and pest control visits are happening on a daily basis.

The previous food inspection, which the Lab Schools passed was on Oct. 6. Its most-recent failed test occurred on Oct. 21.

Manier said that the administration has invited the health department back to confirm code compliance and has informed the Lab Schools community of the report and subsequent actions.