School board bombarded by meatball backlash

By Jillian Fontaine | Beacon sixth-grade intern

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A simple math error led to a flood of meatballs in the Bass Lake Elementary School kitchen. (Photo illustration by Jillian Fontaine)

Where’s the beef? Members of the Bass Lake School Board of Education found out Monday night as angry parents assailed the panel with questions and complaints about a recurring item on this week’s elementary school lunch menu: meatballs.

Board president Simon Greenless barely had time to start the meeting when a mob of some seven irate parents began hurling questions at board members.

The gist of the parent gripes was that a diet of meatballs, in whatever form, is not a healthful one.

“You expect our children to be alert and ready to learn after eating gristle and fat for lunch?” asked Jennifer Juniper. “Have any of you seen how meatballs are made?”

Juniper, mother of 10-year-old Evelyn Juniper, added that she is considering pulling her daughter out of school altogether if improvements to the menu were not forthcoming.

Board president Greenless, clearly caught off-guard by the barrage, suspended action on the scheduled agenda and moved to demand that the head of the elementary school kitchen staff, Bernice Bearnaise, be brought in to explain.

Bearnaise happened to be at the elementary school, where the board meetings are held, working in the kitchen.

Bearnaise shrugged off the complaints and told Greenless and the rest of the board that a simple “rounding error” led to the purchase of 145 pounds of pre-formed meatballs from the school’s supplier.

“We calculated that we’d need about 14 or 15 pounds of meatballs to feed the kids,” Bearnaise said. “I asked one of the cooks to split the difference and place the order. She rounded up to 145 instead. Maybe it was a decimal error. I have no clue. But we’ve got the meatballs and we have to use them.”

Juniper and the other parents suggested freezing them for the Valentine’s Day dance rather than employing them for every facet of the school lunches. Bearnaise countered that such a move would be a grave mistake.

“We got them frozen and thawed them out over the break,” she said. “Every dingbat knows you can’t refreeze meat once it’s been unfrozen.”

No conclusions came from the meeting as the reporter covering it had to leave to do her homework.

Expect more on “Meatball-gate” from upcoming Beacon editions.

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