Senator Wants Veterans to Stop Sharing Their Meals with Cockroaches

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is introducing legislation to clamp down on VA food safety inspections after a whistleblower report highlighted unsanitary conditions at a kitchen facility in a Chicago area VA hospital.

One Senator wants to ensure that veterans no longer have to share their meals in VA facilities with cockroaches.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) has introduced the Requiring Accountability and Inspections for Dining Service (RAID) Act (S. 2925), a bill that would establish new cleanliness inspection requirements at VA hospital kitchens and food service areas that mirrors those required of private sector hospitals. It also prevents the VA from self-policing when conducting the inspections.

Kirk introduced the bill after a news story reported a cockroach infestation at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA facility in Illinois. A whistleblower reported that the pest infestations at the facility were so bad that cockroaches routinely crawled across the countertops while food was being prepared, and it was apparently not unusual for them to end up in patients’ food.

Kirk said that because the VA is allowed to conduct its own internal inspections without consequences, it led to the unsanitary conditions at this particular hospital.

“It’s deplorable that this infestation at the Hines VA has gone on for years and that our nation’s heroes are forced to share a plate with cockroaches,” said Senator Kirk. “The substandard treatment of our veterans has to stop. The RAID Act will keep VA kitchens clean and our veterans’ food away from roaches.”

In addition to taking away the VA’s self-inspection practices, the RAID Act would require a national accreditation organization to inspect food prep areas at all VA hospitals and facilities nationwide once per year as well as mandate that all VA kitchens and food service areas meet the same cleanliness and inspection standards as private hospitals.

The bill stipulates that any VA kitchen facilities that fail an inspection must put a remediation plan into place within 48 hours and undergo a second inspection within a week. Failing a second time would result in closing the kitchen and obtaining food service elsewhere.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.