Mulch

Dear Santa:
Please bring us 100 Easy Bake ovens for Christmas so that we can serve 27,000 lunches every day to schoolchildren of both the naughty and nice variety. The San Francisco Health Department stopped us from doing this a few months ago because we weren't equipped to serve lunches at a governmentally acceptable temperature.

We've been good all year ... except for last week when the lunch meat at Sheridan and Mira Loma elementary schools turned green from not being properly refrigerated. But that was caught by the principal and a food worker before any of the kids actually ate it.

You see, very few of our elementary schools have working kitchens. Our food arrives in bulk at one of three packaging sites, where it's assembled into lunch. Then, it goes to upper schools that have ovens. Then, it's put into big thermal duffel bags that drivers deliver.

Earlier this year, we got these new automated packaging machines to eliminate some of the stops. But, uh, the new packaging uses plastic where there once was foil, and we have to set a lower temperature in order not to melt the plastic. We can't heat the food enough to make the Health Department happy and still serve all the kids before they bolt from the cafeteria to the playground.

That's why we need the new ovens. Without your help, we're looking at early spring (Bureaucratic Standard Time) for the new arrivals.

Thank you and Merry Christmas,
San Francisco Unified School District
-- L.D.

WANTED: Miracle on JFK Drive
Of all the holiday themes that could have been featured on the sloped lawn of the Conservatory of Flowers this year, we find the words "Miracles Happen."

The wedding-cake-style greenhouse, which was donated to the city in the 1870s by 22 of California's founders, was damaged last year in a storm. Tragically, it remains locked up tight. Are caretakers using their holiday message to seek the Santa they need?

George Marcopulos, director of the conservatory, says no. "It's just sort of a generic season's wish."

Hmmmm. The conservatory's last outdoor display included flowers planted in the shape of a phone number -- so people could call in their donations. No joke.

Soon after the conservatory was damaged last December, the S.F. Board of Supervisors allocated $250,000 to repair it. Then in February, the conservatory won the dubious distinction of making the top-20 list of "most endangered" historic sites around the world as determined by the World Monuments Fund, and got another $100,000. But up against a restoration price tag of at least $12 million, those grants were intended mostly to attract other donations.

Perhaps a Share the Riches theme is in order for next month's New Year garden.

-- Michaela Jarvis

On the Y Axis
The San Francisco YWCA plans to move its offices into the Japantown YWCA, even though questions remain over who owns the historic building. The Y announced its intentions last week, despite threats of a lawsuit by Japanese-Americans who claim the Sutter Street facility belongs to them. They say the building, which the Y tried to sell for $1.6 million last fall, was built using Japanese-American money back in the '20s and was only given to the Y to hold in trust (see "Japantown Asks 'Y,' " Bay View, Oct. 16).

Japanese-American Community and Cultural Center Executive Director Paul Osaki is furious. But he'd better get to work. After all, possession is nine-tenths of the law.

--

 
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