26 get food poisoning from Community Kitchen - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

26 get food poisoning from Community Kitchen

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By WRCB Staff

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - More than two dozen people got sick after eating at the Community Kitchen Wednesday. 

The Hamilton County Health Department is investigating.  They spent several hours with the community Thursday trying to figure out why some folks are getting sick. 

The Chattanooga Community Kitchen is changing its menu and cleaning everything. 

"Nausea, throwing up, diarrhea oh my goodness, sweating chills. It was all of it," says James Ponders. 

Ponders describes how he felt Wednesday night after eating lunch at the Community Kitchen. 

"In the middle of the chapel service, I just got sick. I couldn't make it to the bathroom and started throwing up before I got there. So I didn't get to eat nothing," says Ponders. 

The Hamilton County Health Department says 26 people were diagnosed with food poisoning after eating chicken and rice at the Community Kitchen.

Thursday, the kitchen is taking precautions by serving packaged foods like chicken broth, crackers and Little Debbie cakes.

Ponders is happy to eat something easy on his stomach, but others don't like the bland food.

"It's not very good because it's not very filling and I'm hungry," says Gary Meeks.

Meeks has come to the kitchen for the last three years.  He says he didn't eat the lunch Wednesday, since it didn't look too appetizing. 

"Having been sick to your stomach from food poisoning.  It's worse than being drunk sick. It is pitiful," says Meeks. 

Community Kitchen workers spent the morning washing the kitchen and tables with bleach to make sure everything is clean.

"We have the Health Department here inspecting everything. We're taking a proactive approach to actually cleaning up everything sanitizing clearly and we're having them test materials to hopefully find out if there was a cause here at the kitchen," says Jens Christensen, assistant director of Community Kitchen. 

The health department says the origin of the food poisoning is in fact the chicken and rice.  We are told 10 people have gone to the ER and others face food poisoning symptoms. 

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