Holmdel BOE Adopts Food Audit System After Marley's Mellow Mood Incident
The district is putting all eyes in the cafeteria.
After a commercialized "mellow" drink made its way into Holmdel schools without approval, the Board of Education is tightening the lock.
Marley's Mellow Mood, an anti-energy drink, was discovered in W.R. Satz Middle School on Nov. 30, after the school nurse treated several students for symptoms such as nausea, fatigue. In total, seven students fell ill after consuming the drink.
Now, the Board of Education is implementing a stricter check system. While Marley's was never approved by the board, the district and food service provider Chartwells is attempting to make sure nothing else sneaks by.
Chartwells food service directors in the district no longer have the ability to purchase food from unapproved vendors.
"No food service vendors are permitted to visit the Holmdel school district. This includes current approved vendors," Petrizzo said. "Vendors who cold call will not be admitted into the buildings and will not be able to meet with the food service director."
Marley's Mellow Mood, and two products later discovered Black Water and Hint Water, were all sold in the district without board approval or approval form Chartwells.
The onsite food manager for Chartwells who purchased the drink for the school has been removed after 10 years with the company.
The Board of Education is also requesting random "food audit" spot checks in each school, three times per month. The checks will be completed by an outside food services consultant company, which has been with the Holmdel district for eight years.
"The results of the audits to the district accordingly. In addition, building administration will exercise increased awareness when visiting the cafeterias," said Business Administrator Michael Petrizzo, point person for food services in the district.
Both Holmdel employees and Chartwells employees are further encouraged to ask questions about any new food, either to the food service company or the Board of Education.
"This happened outside of the process," Board Member Joseph Hammer said. "We will keep track of [the audits] and report that out to the public."
Students who purchased Marley's Mellow Mood from Satz were refunded a total of $126.50. Students who purchased the drink from Holmdel High School were refunded $1,276.50.
Middle school and high school students who purchased Hint flavored waters will be refunded by Feb. 20 totaling over $1,000. Chartwells is refunding the school district for all credits to student accounts.
The Marley's Mellow Mood timeline:
- Oct. 17: The onsite food director for Chartwells is told by her district manager not to sell Marley's Mellow Mood.
- Oct. 18: Marley's Mellow Mood hits the Holmdel High School cafeteria.
- Nov. 30: The drink is sold at W.R. Satz Middle School. Seven children are reported ill, with a connection to the drink. The product is removed from the district and the administration, in conjunction with Chartwells, begin an investigation. Two additional drinks, BlackWater and Hint Water, were also removed from schools.
- Dec. 3: The onsite food service director is removed from her position. Parents are notified through the district and Chartwells that anyone wishing to seek restitution for medical bills should contact the district. To date, the board reported no parents have come forward to do so.
- Dec. 19: Chartwells visits the Board of Education to detail steps going forward and actions taken to rectify the situation.