Parents in Mecklenburg County, N.C., who are concerned about the quality of their child’s school cafeteria can now receive public school lunchroom health inspection information through e-mail alert notifications. The Health Department provides an e-mail alert signup on its website to allow citizens to receive updates on the latest health inspections.

After users set up a user name and password on their e-mail alert profile, they can choose from a list of public school lunchrooms they’d like to follow to receive health inspection notifications. When an inspection is completed, the information is entered into the notification system, said Joshua Miller, the vice president of technology for Garrison Enterprises, the vendor that hosts the notification system.

“When an inspection is conducted you will then receive an alert in your inbox the next day letting you know that one of your selected locations has received a new inspection,” Miller said in an e-mail. “Inspections occur based on the establishment’s risk-level and may occur once per quarter, three times a year, twice a year or once a year.”

Once logged in, users can also perform advanced report searches including an establishment’s name, score range, establishment type, ZIP code or date range.

Because health inspection information is public record, information was already available on the department’s website, said Amber Daniels, an environmental supervisor for the Health Department. Signing up for the e-mail alert notification was just a new way to receive that existing information.

Aside from public school lunchrooms, users can also choose to receive inspection notifications from a list of other county facilities including private school lunchrooms, day-care centers, restaurants, food stands, tattoo shops and more, said a Mecklenburg County official.

“It’s just an avenue of if you want to stay abreast on your favorite restaurant, this is how you do it,” Daniels said. “If you want to check restaurants before you go out to eat, this is how you do it.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.