^ answering questions, as here at a recent Mayor Walsh town hall, will be something that Superintendent John McDonough will have to do a lot of, with a big food scandal on the menu
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That the Boston School department’s food operation was seriously flawed, we already knew, well before the Boston Globe’s recent front page story. John Connolly, in last year’s Mayor campaign, made an issue of finding spoiled food in the Department’s food works. The issue didn’t commandeer the campaign because much larger forces rolled into the arena; yet it forecast something we now are paying large attention to, an issue that Mayor Walsh has to deal with whether he likes it or not.
Thanks to a full review of the School Department’s food operation commissioned by interim Superintendent John McDonough, what seemed the entire story was fully bruited. Yet it proved not to be the entire story. Only a few days ago we learned that the Boston school department has eliminated its salad bar, healthy food program from those schools that had it, citing costs. In its place, snacks — the very snacks we don’t want to see kids eating in school (or at all).
Costs matter a lot to John McDonough, who was the Department’s chief financial officer for 20 years, before he became interim superintendent. They do matter. Still, diet seems to me a poor place to economize. Parents already pay for school lunches, if they can. Surely the department can give them value for their money.
McDonough notes that next year’s school budget includes lots of layoffs from the Department’s central administration. These we approve. reports abound of mismanagement, duplication, even no management at all. Problems are reported, then not dealt with. Sometimes it seems as though the managers working under McDonough have but two job goals : first, keep the “super” unaware of the problem and (2) make sure they don’t become news. Surely that mindset will not survive the layoffs, or the story now on every Boston school parent’s reading table. I doubt that the Boston Globe is going to back off at this point, simply because the story is so ripe.
Meanwhile, as my own State Representative tells me he thinks school nutrition is a local, District-level matter, I ask the thirteen good folks on the Boston City Council : can we not pass an ordinance requiring healthy foods at school lunches and banning sugar snacks entirely ? And funding the ordinance, if need be ?
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere