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Home > Education > Water Damage In The News > Article > Arizona High School Begins Water Clean Up After Pipe Burst

Arizona High School Begins Water Clean Up After Pipe Burst

We all remember high school lunches, and we all remember that they weren’t exactly anything that were ever going to win any culinary awards, but things got taken to a whole new level at Highland High School in Arizona this week, as cafeteria staff had to make meals from whatever they could following damage from a burst high pressure pipe  on January 1. 

As water clean up procedures began, the food service "disaster" team held an emergency meeting Jan. 2 to develop the plan and set up the temporary cafeteria, said Debbie McCarron, food-service director for Gilbert Public Schools.

Students ended up eating in a makeshift cafeteria in the school gymnasium, dining on $2 reduced price lunches of cold pizza or cold sandwiches.  The school kitchen was a near total loss, and food service staff only had two days to figure out a way to feed the school’s 2900 students.

Other schools in the district donated equipment, including heating and refrigeration units.  Breakfast and lunch are prepared at nearby Greenfield Junior High and brought over to Highland for serving.

For the first two days of classes, Pizza Hut provided 1500 pizza slices a day, and the food staff made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Since computers were out due to the damage, no charge was made for the meals.  Students also had access to cookies and beverages, and the staff hopes to make other choices available in the coming days.

 Despite the challenges, food staff had the cafeteria up and running on Jan. 3, when students returned from the winter break.

"It's going marvelously well," said Principal Domonic Salce. "The kids have adjusted quite well."

State health inspectors have been monitoring operations.  The district has added portable hand-washing sinks in the gym, McCarron said. Four serving stations are in each corner of the gym, which is about two-thirds the size of the cafeteria. "It's been amazingly smooth," said Patty Narducci, Gilbert's secondary supervisor for the food and nutrition department. Tables and chairs have been set up on a temporary plywood floor sealed with paint so as not to ruin the basketball court. Extra electricity also had to be brought in, McCarron said.

The mini-gym is used daily for PE classes, athletics and events. Some events have been cancelled, and classes have been moved, Salce said.

"It's been a lot of shifting and adjusting," Salce said. "We hope that the dining area will be available soon. We'll cross our fingers that that is sooner rather than later."

Local water damage restoration providers have been brought in to assess the damage and begin clean up operations in the cafeteria.

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