Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 OCT 09: Cold Cutbacks

It's amazing how groups of people can have diametrically different tastes in food. Some people would love to have a catered lunch brought in today -- yet some mothers were on the TV news Tuesday, protesting the very thought of it at a grade school.

Several parents at Muscogee Elementary School complained to THE 5:00 p.m. news that their children are served lunches driven in from another grade school. They say as a result, the food is cold - and ESPN doesn't even serve "Cold Pizza" on its networks anymore.

Muscogee Elementary School's breakfasts and lunches are made at Cusseta Road Elementary, then transported about three miles. It might be food, and it might be driven in vans and SUV's, but these upset parents still consider it forced busing.

Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller explained food is transported from Cusseta Road Elementary in special storage containers. But that name for the containers - "Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point"?! Next thing you know, someone will start rumors they're serving genetically engineered glowing yellow rice.

(Maybe the school district should use the containers they're promoting in Country's Barbecue commercials. You know, the ones which somehow know how to keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold.)

Foods supposedly are placed in warmers, after they arrive from Cusseta Road Elementary. But parents at Muscogee Elementary claim the items still are cold, the staff won't even heat them in a microwave -- and I'm not sure grade-school science labs use Bunsen burners anymore.

One parent went through a list of items Muscogee Elementary children are being served. But it left me confused, because her list began with cottage cheese. You might serve that warm as an ingredient in lasagna -- but isn't that an item from the chilly dairy case? Maybe this mom also needs to investigate her neighborhood grocery store.

But anyway: the mother complained Muscogee Elementary students also are served "broccoli, carrots, fruits in the cut.... something they don't want to eat...." So? Pretend it's an appetizer tray at the P.T.A. meeting....

But based on this list, I get the feeling the gripes go beyond food temperature. The mother seems upset that students are getting foods they don't want to eat. Blame this on McDonald's, I guess - for declaring long ago that meals with cheeseburgers are the only "happy" ones.

As it happens, Tuesday's national news included a report on school lunches. The Institute of Medicine actually suggests students eat more fruit and vegetables, because too many youngsters are overweight. If this report is adopted, the only acceptable "baby fat" will be the clothing line with a different spelling.

But if the Muscogee Elementary School parents really want a return to "in-house" cafeteria food, they might be disappointed. Several local schools have breakfasts and lunches delivered from other places now. That probably saves the district money on personnel -- and it's worked so well that WLTZ and the Ledger-Enquirer copied it.

For the record: the official Muscogee County School menu calendar shows grade-school students will get "chili cheese fries" today - along with fresh fruit, and that dreaded broccoli. I stunned my grandnieces a few weeks ago, when I told them a U.S. President once openly refused to eat broccoli. Yes, they still were expected to clean their plates without my help.

So dab that broccoli in the cheese sauce for some flavor, while we chew on other Tuesday news:

+ The Phenix City Council heard about an unusual lawsuit against the city. One person who attended the meeting says a citizen used a walker to carry trash to the curb for pickup - but then the collection crew reportedly took the walker, as well as the garbage. So a city actually is being sued for having overenthusiastic employees....

(WRBL reports the Phenix City Council also decided to study the addition of "traffic cameras" around town. Columbus already has several of them installed at intersections - yet for some reason, WTVM has yet to show any of them during weather reports.)

+ Early voting opened for the Georgia House seat vacated by Georgia Transportation Director Vance Smith. With two weeks of campaigning left, I have no clue about how this race is going -- and candidate Jerry Luquire actually seems to be watching his tongue.

+ Army Chief of Staff George Casey visited Fort Benning and the National Infantry Museum. Casey assured reporters base realignment will remain on schedule, as long as Congress keeps passing "continuing resolutions" for military spending. Isn't this strange? Construction on post could depend on whether the runoff election in Afghanistan has no cheating.

+ WLTZ reported the Columbus Health Department has given H-1-N-1 spray flu vaccine to only 62 people so far. Recent news reports could drive that number higher - as residents mistakenly suspect they can get "swine flu" from eating barbecued pork.

+ Evening newscasts reported Albany ranks fourth on a new list of the most impoverished cities in the U.S. Considering Forbes came out with this list last week, apparently the Albany news media are too poor even to buy magazines.

+ Auburn University football coach Gene Chizik told reporters his team will "have to play more than three quarters" to beat Louisiana State this weekend. There's a way to get around this matter, of course -- but so far, no one in Auburn has proposed starting a college hockey team.

+ Instant Message to the managers of the new Sexual Assault Support Center in Columbus: I'm sure you mean well. But about that name -- the initials are going to have some people giggling about the "joy of SASC."

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