By Ben Radstein, Staff Reporter

When I was a boy in school, some of the stuff the cafeteria ladies slapped down on my tray was just nasty. I had to pinch my nose and close my eyes to choke it down. Compared to many children starting or returning to school this fall, I had it easy. As part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind program, all schools that receive federal funds for school lunch programs will now serve Purina People Chow, which the company created just for this program. Five days a week, kids will get the same thing.

I spoke to Albert Sandfoss, a spokesman for the program. "President Bush mandated that we improve school lunches, and he put me personally in charge. There will be no more claiming ketchup as a vegetable, or serving junk food like pizza and ice cream just because kids like it; each meal must be completely nutritious. I tried working with several contractors to design school lunches that will constitute a balanced meal. The only one up to the challenge was Purina. They invented People Chow for America's school children, and it is nutritionally balanced and complete. No one will be lacking for vitamins, calcium, protein, or any of their basic needs."

I pointed out to him that people want variety in their meals, not to mention taste. He said "They'll get used to the taste, and besides, it's the nutritional value that is important. Taste is a frill, and The President demanded a no-frills approach to this program. If they want variety, they can pour a little water on it, and it makes gravy. In schools where kids are in good shape, they will serve regular formula, but most schools are full of blobby little lard balls. They will get Fat Kid Formula." I was taken aback by the un-PC name of this product,  and asked him, "Couldn't they have called it lo-cal, diet, or lite?" "No way," said Sandfoss. "That would send the message that it is OK to eat twice as much, and who needs sugar-coated euphemisms? Tell it like it is."

I expect the cafeteria ladies to complain more than ever that today's kids are rude. No one could possibly say please or thank you when this toxic waste is slapped down in front of them. I wonder if they are going to put it in a bowl like dog food?

Sandfoss offered me a sample of People Chow, and I hated it. If you were ever forced to eat dirt as a child  by bullies, you will recognize its flavor in this product. Again, I feel so sorry for the children. What could be next from our "compassionate conservative" leader? Will they serve Purina People Chow at soup kitchens?