Have some school-lunch parsnips with your white milk

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2011 - 4:22 PM

The Minneapolis Public Schools have removed chocolate milk from the lunchroom menu. You may ask why. Some of us may wonder why it was there in the first place. Let me guess: because putting Milky Way bars in the blender and sprinkling the froth with M&Ms was too labor-intensive? According to their own stats, 60 percent of milk sales in the school come from choco-infused bovine secretions. This means that four out of 10 children are hard of hearing, because kids always want chocolate milk if they hear it's available. It's like asking if they want a stone or a puppy.

Desserts have been off the menu since 2006, and again, good. When I was growing up, the junior high cafeteria sold caramel rolls the size of sofa cushions, and slabs of pizza loaded high with greasy pseudo-sausage. A meal in every bite! It's as if they were sponsored by the "Husky" department at Penneys. Menus are healthier now, but let us not lose distinction between what the schools sell and what the parents provide. Some schools in Chicago have banned home lunches, because parents send Bad Things. Ahem: your beeswax, this is not. No, I'm not saying a parent should send the kid off with a Thermos of Karo syrup and a feedbag of Lucky Charms, but removing the parental input is the sort of high-handed contempt that makes people feel as if the schools think they're loaning you their property when they put the kids on the bus at the end of the day.

Now they can do something about the rest of the menu, which my child describes as a soggy horror made of glue and cardboard, with a serving of vegetables fit only for fork-flinging at your enemy. I ask, what are they? Fricasseed rutabagas? Slimed beets? Boiled brussels-sprout nodules wrapped in pumpkin guts? I never get an answer, except that they are not an option. If only there were a way to make them eat their vegetables! I know: coat them in delicious, rich, creamy milk choc-

Oh, right.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/popcrush.

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