Carter County parents raise concerns after child sends home photos of school lunch


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – What’s in a sandwich? Carter County parents are asking school officials this question after photos of a particularly off-color meal began circulating throughout the community.

Happy Valley High School’s lunch menu on the day the photos were taken.

According to online menus posted by Carter County Schools Nutrition, the photos in question are of a “Turkey Club Sandwich” served at Happy Valley High School on Oct. 26.

The pictures, taken by a student and sent to parents who shared them with News Channel 11, have circulated throughout the school.

“My food service director has been looking into the matter,” said Dr. Tracy McAbee, director of Carter County Schools. “From what she has discovered, the product code was in date, it was thawed properly and the heating procedures were correct.”

Dr. McAbee said the sandwich was in fact a turkey ham and cheese sandwich, which the USDA Ham Glossary defines as a “ready-to-eat product made from cured thigh meat of turkey.”

The meat, provided by USDA Commodities, is a smoked, cured turkey ham that costs an average of $2.50 per pound and comes pre-cooked for schools to re-heat.

“The sandwich shown was not brought back at time of service to be reported or to be exchanged for a different entrée,” said Dr. McAbee. “The item shown does not appear to be similar to typical sandwich meat we serve. When discussing this matter, multiple people at that school commented to [the food service director] that their sandwiches were very good and up to par with what is served on a regular basis. As far as the exact cause of this sandwich having that coloration, I have no definitive answer. There are thousands of pounds of meat product sent to schools across the Tri-Cities area. This is some sort of anomaly.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides school lunches across the country through the National School Lunch Program, and Carter County Schools provides free breakfast and lunch for all students with food sent by the department.

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