Most schools have done away with Mystery Meat Day for obvious reasons — namely, it didn’t exactly have the best brand recognition, easily losing out to Taco Tuesday and Pizza Day. Of course, given what hath been wrought by Michelle Obama and her take on the school lunch, it’s a wonder anyone who doesn’t need to eats school lunches at all.
However, if you’re in Potter, Nebraska, your kid may have had Mystery Meat Day and not even known about it.
In a letter to parents sent out Wednesday, the superintendent of Potter-Dix Public Schools acknowledged that high school students unwittingly had been fed kangaroo meat.
“Last Thursday, October 10, the Potter site kitchen served chili as its main course for lunch,” the letter from Superintendent Mike Williams read.
“Included in the meat for the chili was kangaroo meat that was mixed with beef,” Williams wrote. “When I found out that this had happened, I discussed this with the head cook, Kevin Frei, and he said he added the kangaroo meat because of it’s (sic) nutritional value because it is a very lean meat. After our discussion, Mr. Frei did provide me with nutritional information, some of which I have included in this mailing.”
Oh, yeah, show them that the kangaroo meat was actually good for the children. That should clear it all up.
Williams acknowledged that this wasn’t going to fly (or hop) with parents, as evinced by his “thoughts on this situation.”
“If a family wants to eat exotic foods, they can do so on their own time — not at school,” he wrote. “If we were to have food or ingredients that are out of the ordinary, they should be listed on the menu so that the students and families are aware of what they would be being served.
“We will no way be serving food of this nature again. Period.”
According to Fox News, Frei has been fired.
“This is a matter I am taking very seriously,” Williams concluded. “I do not think that kangaroo meat is unhealthy or dangerous. It has to meet USDA standards in order for companies to sell it.
“But, it is without a doubt not a normal staple of our diet and will not, nor will any other non-staple foods, be a part of the Potter-Dix meal program.”
The sitcom-y nature of this mess aside, I think the incident rates a few questions. Primarily, when exactly was the procurement for kangaroo meat approved?
Chicken breast is roughly equivalent in terms of leanness, and even in Australia — you know, where the kangaroo is a native animal — the cost of a kilo of kangaroo steak is currently $12.50 at Woolworth’s compared with $6 a kilo for chicken breast. I’m going to assume Frei isn’t smuggling his own stash of kangaroo meat into Potter-Dix High School, and school cafeterias aren’t exactly known as dens of profligacy, which raises the issue of who signed off on this.
Not to belabor the point about school lunch nutritional standards, also, but is the pressure to meet them so great that we’re turning to the meat of the kangaroo? I mean, really — back when we were in school and it was Mystery Meat Day, we could usually be reasonably certain it was coming from a cow, a pig or a fowl. Sure, it might not have been the best cut of those animals, but we dealt. I don’t remember my parents receiving any letters from school officials talking about how we had been accidentally fed capybara and vouchsafing it would never happen again.
Come to think of it, maybe Mystery Meat Day wasn’t half bad. Come back to us, mystery meat. How we’ve missed thee.
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