Globe Editorial

Freezergate: Separating fresh from foul

March 26, 2011

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It turns out that all those adolescent jokes about school lunches were true — at least in Boston. Federal guidelines may permit cafeterias to serve two-year-old ground beef and egg patties — but that doesn’t mean they should serve them. Boston’s public schools did, and kids are entitled to one free gross-out joke for every Bush-era patty to emerge from the broiler.

Food that sits in freezers for too long loses nutritional value, and considering that low-income students consume the majority of their calories at school, the school district should ensure that meals are not only safe, but also fresh, nutritious, and tasty.

Freezergate may not be the scandal some have made it out to be, but it does show that the managers who plan menus and make decisions about buying and storing foods should have more extensive culinary backgrounds. Superintendent Carol Johnson removed the longtime food director, an MBA and dietitian. In picking her replacement, Johnson should only consider experienced candidates with the hands-on culinary know-how to devise creative ways to serve fresher foods to Boston students. The new director’s goal shouldn’t only be to serve students processed frozen foods before they expire, but, when possible, to eliminate those items from school menus altogether.