June 1, 2012 — For obvious reasons, I’m not going to use any real names or locations but I’m confident this story actually happened at an elementary school in this part of Kentucky.
I heard the story many years ago while in graduate school.
The class had to do with managing the business affairs of a public school, including the school lunch program.
When asked by the professor if school business paperwork was complicated, the principal of that school related the following story.
It seems that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had introduced mozzarella cheese into the school lunch program but many rural schools were reluctant to use it.
Most of their cooks, teachers and students were not yet familiar with pizza and lasagna and mozzarella cheese.
After receiving three letters from the USDA extolling the nutritional value of the white, semi-soft cheese, the principal agreed to buy a small amount as an experiment.
The school secretary was instructed to order 10 pounds, the smallest package available.
The secretary filled out the form and apparently put down 1-0-0-0 but left out the decimal which would have made it 10.00 pounds, the desired quantity.
That order form was bundled with others and shipped to the school district’s central office where it was signed off by the food services director who remarked later that it was a surprising order of a relatively unknown cheese.
The principal recalled that about two weeks later the school janitor, named Willie Bob or something like that, came running into the office, too excited to speak.
He kept waving his hands and gesturing toward the window, finally blurting out that the principal should go out to the cafeteria’s loading dock behind the school.
A refrigerator truck was backed up the dock and the driver was happily unloading 1,000 pounds of mozzarella cheese – a half-ton of the strange, new cheese.
The principal, now in tears of laughter, said the school didn’t have enough refrigerator space so 10-pound blocks of it were sent home with any teacher or student willing to try it.
Parents were exchanging recipes at PTA meetings. Mozzarella cheese was everywhere.
Months later, the school finally used up all of the cheese but not before the owner of a local grocery store wrote the principal a letter of complaint.
No, he wasn’t unhappy over the free cheese given to his customers.
It was because his toilet paper sales had dropped 30 percent.