Savannah State considering meal plan compensation following health department investigation

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah State University (SSU) officials say they’re “reviewing options” for student meal plan compensation.

This comes nearly three weeks after the university closed the Student Union on campus after videos surfaced on social media showing mold on bread and bugs cooked into food at the dining hall.

The Chatham County Environmental Health Department gave the Student Union the green light to reopen to students last week.

The building, however, remains closed to the public until further notice.

“I’m the one eating them. Are you?”

Students who spoke to News 3 say the revelation about the infestation prompted them to really consider where they are getting their food from.

“I got food, ate that all three days ago, and now I just haven’t been eating,” says SSU student Martha Butso.

Butso says she has been doing all she can to avoid taking money out of her savings in order to get food off-campus. Still, she knows she has to at times so she can eat.

Butso isn’t alone in this.

Other students who spoke to News 3 say they have spent between $200 to $300 over the last three weeks for food.

“Some days, I’ll just skip lunch and just try and find something in my room,” says SSU student Khalil Brooks. “Maybe a bottle of water, an apple. Just something to fill me up for the evening.”

In a statement to News 3, university officials said they are reviewing their options for student meal plan reimbursement.

Students say it should not be a question, and that they should get reimbursed for the money they have not been spending.

“I just want my money back,” says Butso. “I didn’t even get to use my meal plan for most of this semester.”

News 3 reached out to Thompson Hospitality, the company who runs dining services for SSU, for comment and have not heard back from them.

Inspections vs Investigations

The Student Union was last inspected in October 2019 by the Chatham County Environmental Health Department.

The facility received a 95 score and an “A” for that inspection.

Lauren Baker-Newton, an Environmental Health Specialist at the Coastal Health District, says routine inspections are not scheduled by the department.

If any violations are found, the facility has a set period of time to correct them before a repeat inspection is taken.

The recent investigation, conducted by the same department less than half a year later, was prompted after concerns were made by the public.

Baker-Newton says the department typically begins an investigation within 72 hours the department receives a complaint.

If the complaint details a customer falling ill, there are three areas that need to be addressed in order for the Health Department to fully understand the extent of a possible violation:

  • The department must know who the patient is
  • An illness needs to be confirmed by a medical specialist
  • A source of where the virus or pathogen originated

If you experience a problem with a facility, you can contact the Chatham County Environmental Health Department directly here.

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