Friday, May 26, 2017

Dinner Time

Bon appetite, readers! 

"Boston parents urge school system to dump food contractor" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  May 25, 2017

The Boston Citywide Parent Council, upset that too many students are tossing their lunches into the trash, has launched a letter-writing and phone-call campaign to urge city leaders to dump the school system’s food contractor.

The parent group is taking issue with the lunches provided by Whitsons Culinary Group, which prepares and freezes them at its facility on Long Island, N.Y. The lunches, which feature such dishes as chicken teriyaki and barbecued meatballs, come individually packaged in black containers sealed with clear plastic, resembling frozen dinners sold in supermarkets.

Parents say the lunches are often overcooked and taste terrible.

This I really don't understand because I got a wonderful public relations piece regarding their meals only a few weeks ago.

Globe must have forget it was in the oven.

“My son begs me to make him a lunch so he doesn’t have to eat the school food,” said Beth Rogers, whose son attends the Eliot Innovation K-8 School in the North End. “He doesn’t like the way it looks or the way it tastes.”

Her 9-year-old son, Owen Tenby, said his classmates “tell the lunch lady they hate the food so much they will throw up.”

The parent council is making its pitch as Whitsons’ $36.6 million contract is set to expire in August. Whitsons is competing against two other bidders for the next three-year contract, which would provide prepackaged meals only to schools equipped with warming ovens, representing about two-thirds of the city’s 125 schools.

The other schools have fully equipped kitchens where meals are prepared daily.

Speculation has been swirling that Whitsons is a shoo-in for the next contract, since the company announced in March that it had secured a facility in Dorchester, where it will be able to whip up most lunches locally and serve them fresh, instead of trucking in frozen meals.

As of now, Boston is the only school system in Massachusetts that contracts with Whitsons to provide meals, raising questions about why the company would take a financial gamble on a new facility before knowing if it had the city’s next contract.

Whitsons, which has held two contracts with the school system over the past six years, defended its record, saying it always works on elevating the quality and nutritional value of its meals.

“Our new culinary center is located right in the city of Boston, where meals will be prepared fresh daily by local team members utilizing ingredients from local farms and Boston area suppliers,” said Karen Dittrich, a Whitsons spokeswoman, in a statement. “We have proven resources to provide high quality meals, food and nutrition education, improve meal participation, and reduce waste.”

She added, “We look forward to the opportunity of continuing our partnership with the Boston Public Schools community for many years to come.”

The Boston Public Schools and the mayor’s office said they could not comment on the parents’ concerns because state law forbids public agencies from discussing bids during the deliberation process.

But Rich Weir, a school spokesman, said in a statement, “As a district, we always value the input and opinions of the students and parents we serve.” And Nicole Caravella, a mayoral spokeswoman, echoed that in a similar statement.

Beyond the food contract bid, the school system is experimenting this month with a new model to provide fresh meals to some East Boston schools that historically had not been equipped with kitchens.

Under the “Hub and Spoke Project,” meals cooked in the cafeteria at East Boston High School are delivered to an early childhood center and two elementary schools, which have been outfitted with ovens, freezers, a refrigerator, and three basin sinks. A donation from the Shah Family Foundation is helping to fund the effort.

If successful, the school system intends to bring the model to other neighborhoods that have a school with a full-service kitchen that is near schools lacking cafeterias.

Parents began their letter-writing campaign at the end of April and then stepped up efforts last week with additional letters and phone calls to Superintendent Tommy Chang and Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

The parent group has made clear in the letters that they want Whitsons out.

“Boston parents are up in arms about the idea of business as usual in the food our children are offered at our schools,” the group wrote in a May 16 letter. “It’s time for a change.”

The letter said many students are not eating the meals and would rather go hungry.

Jeff Klug, a parent who used to volunteer in the lunch room at the Hurley K-8 School in the South End when his two children attended school there, said the younger kids struggled to pull off the plastic wrap from the tops of the containers, requiring adult assistance.

“The food itself was brown,” Klug said, an indication it had sat in the warming ovens too long. “So much of it went into the trash. It was mind-boggling. It was just a stunning waste of money, and the kids go hungry.”

That's Bo$ton $chools for you.


In addition to not drinking the water, kids, you are going to have to take short breaths:

"Many Boston public schools are said to have bad air; Report calls poor ventilation, leaking roofs red flags" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  March 02, 2017

A city report says that more than half of Boston’s schools are plagued by poor or deficient air quality, which studies have linked to low student achievement and high rates of asthma.

The findings, released Wednesday, are based on an examination of schools’ ventilation systems or the lack of them, and other factors that can affect air quality, including the inability to open windows.

Air quality itself was not measured.

The examination revealed that more than half of the schools have inadequate ventilation and some need new roofs or major repairs to them. Poor air circulation can cause rooms to become hot, humid, and stuffy, which can trigger asthma attacks. Leaky roofs can cause mold.

“Maybe that’s why my son has asthma,” said Kenny Jervis, whose son attends Clap Elementary School in Dorchester, where the air quality was rated deficient, the lowest rating. “This is very enlightening. My son developed asthma in kindergarten.”

The report gave the Clap’s ventilation system a poor rating and noted the roof needed to be replaced. Jervis said that water leaks at the school, which was built in 1896, are well known and that the basement, where students eat lunch, often smells musty.

WhereTF is all the money going?

The asthma rate among students across the city schools is about 16 percent, but some schools are higher than 30 percent, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy organization that works on workplace issues.

The report, produced under a city initiative called BuildBPS, assessed the condition of all schools and their ability to offer a 21st-century education.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who unveiled the report, said the poor air quality points to the need to overhaul school buildings, more than half of which were built before World War II and have been deteriorating due to a “history of neglect.” Walsh has pledged $1 billion toward the effort over the next 10 years.

WTF? This after the Globe crowd about Menino's 20 years, and we are constantly being told Mass is #1 in ejewkhazion.

“We have heating systems that are 50 years old. That adds to the poor air quality. Not having good windows, not having good circulation” adds to poor air quality, Walsh said. “Even if we are waiting for schools to be fixed, we still have to fix the problem of quality in those schools. Air is one of those important qualities.”

And the water has lead in it, too.

The findings come on the heels of a crisis last year over lead-tainted water in schools that prompted the district to turn off dozens of water fountains and stock bottled water. The tap water at most city schools is not drinkable.

The report did not identify specific solutions to address the deteriorating buildings, sidestepping divisive questions about whether any schools should be closed or replaced. The lack of overall ratings for each school also makes it difficult to assess which are in the worst shape.


The city plans public meetings in the coming months to come up with solutions.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, said Wednesday that he is concerned the report paints an overly rosy view of conditions, with too many buildings deemed to be in fair condition — the mid-level ranking — and that more should have been rated as poor or deficient.

Can't make Bo$ton look bad!

The report concluded that building conditions at three schools were poor, none were deficient, and about half were fair. The rest were good or excellent.

“If you ask people who work in the buildings, the overwhelming sentiment is that our buildings are in poor condition, whether it’s due to the quality of air; or the lack of facilities for art, music, lunch, or gym; or a lack of cleanliness,” Stutman said.

Samuel Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a watchdog funded by businesses and nonprofits that hosted the luncheon, questioned why some schools cannot close in the near future, given that the report concluded the schools could accommodate an additional 10,000 students.

“Right now we have excess capacity, and we are spreading dollars thin,” Tyler said, but the report noted the number of students who could be educated at the schools could be reduced by 10,000 as schools are renovated and spaces are created for cafeterias, music, art, and other programs.

The findings on air quality offer a fresh perspective on an issue the school system has been working to address for years. It builds upon environmental audits the school system conducts annually.


If that were true the schools wouldn't be in such awful shape. Seems to me they are worried more about refugees and immigrants and the ESL classes.

“Boston Public Schools and the City of Boston consider the health and well-being of students and staff our top priority,” the School Department said in a statement.

They lie, kids. They lie right to your face!

Tolle Graham, who has worked with a number of Boston schools as a labor environment coordinator at MassCOSH, said Boston has endeavored to reduce environmental triggers for asthma. The district, for instance, uses “green” cleaners instead of chemical products and is being more mindful of overall cleanliness.

But she said other schools are hamstrung by cuts in custodial staffs and repair requests that go unfilled for years....

Yeah, well, all that money has to go to GE or some other corporate behemoth that doesn't pay taxes, and I'm still told by the Globe that the system is one of the best in the nation.


"Milton Academy taps social justice expert to confront bias incidents" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  May 26, 2017

Milton Academy administrators, facing mounting criticism for their response to bias incidents, this week hired a consultant recognized for his social justice work to help the school confront the charged climate and develop a strategy to heal wounds.

Isn't that an elite school?

The consultant’s arrival comes amid a remarkable moment that played out at the school, with two students offering public apologies for their actions. One of the young women — they’re both white — had painted her face black, while the other was in yellow, actions that appeared to mock black and Asian students. Images of the students circulated on social media.

So in addition to the pedophilia, the elite schools are also bastions of racism and supremacism -- and the same pukes then lecture the rest of us!!!

The students atoned this week, with one standing before a gathering in the student center Tuesday, and the other facing a student assembly Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the events who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the school.

Longstanding tensions about racism and bias at the school boiled over this week as hundreds of students demanded action from administrators, first walking out of a school assembly to the chants of “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now,” and then staging a two-day sit-in.

“Where are the actions behind your words?” one student asked, as administrators attempted to address a Monday assembly, according to a video from the boisterous gathering obtained by The Boston Globe.

“Why do the perpetrators remain unpunished and ignorant, while the victims have to get over it?” said another.

I'm starting to lose my appetite.

Administrators responded by summoning Rodney Glasgow, a Washington, D.C., consultant who has worked the past two decades crafting diversity programs for private schools. Glasgow, who attended private school in his youth, dined with student leaders Wednesday night and spent Thursday listening and speaking to groups of students, faculty, and administrators.

Glasgow said in an interview Thursday evening that the bias incidents at Milton resemble what he is witnessing at other high school and college campuses nationwide, and he attributes the tensions to last year’s divisive presidential campaign.

Yup, that damn Trump is to blame for everything.

“I could see Milton saying we know this stuff affects us, but we are going to lead by doing something different from what we are seeing outside our walls today,” Glasgow said.

“The administration really sat down and listened to a group of student leaders in a way I haven’t really seen [a school administration] do before,” he said.

Student leaders this week issued a list of six demands they said administrators need to address so that festering racism at the school can be confronted, with their top priority being a public apology from the “perpetrators” involved in recent racist incidents. They also sought a promise from administrators to hire outside specialists to help train faculty and students about “cultural and societal oppression.”

Students, graduates, and parents have described several bias incidents, but the episode involving the students who painted their faces proved especially disturbing. The images first surfaced last year, but recently reappeared and were widely shared on social media, students said.


Students and parents said another incident that sparked significant concern happened about three years ago in one of the school’s dorms. They said a black student endured racial slurs from others living in the residence hall, but none of those students was disciplined.

Well, that is quicker than the dealing with pedophilia.

Milton Academy, which was founded in 1798 and includes kindergarten through 12th grade, reports a diverse student population. According to the school’s website, 41 percent of students are people of color.

The bias incidents reported by students and parents have occurred in the high school, as did this week’s student protests. Berg, the school’s spokeswoman, said in her statement that high school administrators, students, and faculty will be “working together on addressing the needs students have named, and that work is ongoing.”

She said the administration has also “committed to reviewing language in the student handbook regarding expectations; evaluating the school’s disciplinary procedures; enhancing training for faculty and staff; and establishing further accountability at the leadership level.”

Amid student protests this week, Milton’s head of school, Todd Bland, vowed that administrators were committed to making changes, according to a video of a student gathering.

“It is what you deserve, something that you can see . . . what the institution is actually doing, an implementation strategy for when it will happen, and how, and that’s what we will provide,” Bland said.

“One of the things that I am a believer in is that oftentimes when you reach a point like this, when things get as bad as they are right now,” Bland said, “it affords the opportunity to do something not just for right now, for your experience, but to make sure for the students who follow you, that their experience is different.”


They ought to just close the place.

Did you know Betsy DeVos was an alumni?

At least college awaits:

"UMass-Boston has built a baseball powerhouse" by Mark Arsenault Globe Staff  May 25, 2017

You can’t have a good sports story without some adversity to overcome, so let’s start with the university’s rough year.

This spring, the University of Massachusetts Boston seemed to disprove the adage that there’s no such thing as bad press. The school’s financial deficit made headlines. The chancellor announced he would step down. Meanwhile, the campus has been bedeviled by unfinished construction projects and a crumbling underground parking garage that would be so expensive to demolish it has been compared to the Big Dig.

What are you trying to do, undermine the team?

More specific to the sports team in this story — the UMass Boston baseball squad — early-season injuries felled the team’s shortstop and a top pitcher. The team suffered setbacks on the scoreboard, too, such as the blustery day in March, when it dropped both ends of an excruciating doubleheader, losing both games on walk-offs in extra innings. They made nine errors that day, according to the box scores.

The reason they’re a good sports story is what happened next....


Too bad they lost to Wheaton.

Maybe you kids should go out for lunch:

"After years of seeing fewer U.S. customers come in its doors, McDonald’s Corp. is embracing a different philosophy: take the food to them. The fast-food chain will rely heavily on delivery to reignite sales, especially in the U.S., according to executives speaking at McDonald’s investor day in Chicago on Wednesday. The company also is turning more aggressively to digital technology, such as mobile ordering and payments, to meet its growth targets. Many of McDonald’s overseas restaurants already offer delivery, especially in Asia and the Middle East, and the company generated almost $1 billion in sales from the channel last year..... 

McDonald’s has started testing mobile order-and-pay after acknowledging the ordering process in its restaurants can be ‘‘stressful.’’ The company says it will gather feedback from the test before launching the option nationally toward the end of the year. It says mobile order-and-pay is now available at 29 stores in Monterey and Salinas, Calif., and will expand to 51 more locations in Spokane, Wash., next week. The rollout comes as customers increasingly seek out convenience through options like online ordering or delivery. With its mobile order-and-pay option, McDonald’s says customers place an order on its app then go to a restaurant and ‘‘check in’’ to select how they want to get their food. That could be at the counter, in the drive-through, or with curbside delivery, where an employee brings out orders to a designated space. Orders are prepared once customers check in at the restaurant." 

Hey, no cutting in line!

And what to drink with that?

"Pepsi says slumping sales from Philadelphia’s new sweetened-beverage tax are prompting layoffs of 80 to 100 workers at three distribution plants that serve the city. The company sent out notices Wednesday saying layoffs will occur at plants in north and south Philadelphia and in Wilmington, Delaware, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Dave DeCecco, spokesman for the Purchase, New York-based company that employs 423 people in the city, said the tax has cut sales by 40 percent there...." 

Well, once you open one....

"Hershey says it expects to cut its global workforce by about 15 percent, with the reductions coming mostly from hourly employees outside the United States. The Pennsylvania-based maker of Reese's, Kit Kat and Twizzlers also cut its long-term sales growth forecast to between 2 percent and 4 percent, down from the previous 3 percent to 5 percent. Hershey, which gets the majority of its revenue from North America, attributed the lowered expectations to "changes in U.S. shopping habits" and challenges overseas. The job cuts, which could come to about 2,700 workers, are part of Hershey's plan to improve its operating profit margin over the next three years, and the company said it will share more details on the measures in the future. Other major packaged food makers including Coca-Cola, General Mills and Kellogg have been slashing costs as sales growth has slowed...."

Kind of bitter ta$ting chocolate, 'eh?

I hope that didn't make you sick because....

"Registered nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a one-day strike. Donna Stern, senior chair of the BFMC RN bargaining committee and a full-time nurse, said the facility is chronically understaffed. “As nurses, our number one job is to take care of patients as best we can,” Stern said. “We have all the research to show that holes in the schedule result in higher death, infection, and readmission rates.” Stern said the bargaining committee hopes to begin contract talks with Baystate within the next few days. If a strike is called, the date will be announced after the hospital has been given a 10-day notice. The 200 nurses are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association and 93 percent of them voted to authorize the one-day strike."

At least they have a cafe

No offense, but I wouldn't eat there.

I would say "Good Night," but my mother taught me to never talk with my mouth full.