‘Trouble on the Tray’ Wins EWA Award

Good news for our USA TODAY team that researched, reported and wrote the “Trouble on the Tray” series on school lunch safety: The Education Writers Association yesterday named it a winner in the 2009 National Awards for Education Reporting. The series — reported by Blake Morrison, Peter Eisler and Elizabeth Weise with data analysis by yours truly — received first prize in the “Large Media — Investigative Reporting” category.

I’m giving a talk this week at the IRE Computer Assisted Reporting conference on how we acquired and analyzed the federal data that helped fuel the story.

Major stories in the series include:

Schools in the dark about tainted lunches
Why a recall of tainted beef didn’t include school lunches
Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches
26,500 school cafeterias lack required inspections

Our series spurred congressional calls for reforms to USDA policies, and in February the agency announced tighter requirements on companies that supply food to the National School Lunch Program, including stricter testing of meat.

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