Out-of-town corporate restaurants pushed aside in favor of local eateries for lunchtime program

PALM SPRINGS — Local eateries have won out over large, out-of-town restaurant chains such as Red Robin and Olive Garden, when it comes to providing food for a lunchtime program that is set to begin this fall.

The City Council voted 4-0 to Thursday to approve the program Councilmember Grace Garner proposed. Councilmember Geoff Kors was absent.

The Lunchtime Program will include a catered lunch and a presentation by different City departments, such as Maintenance and Parks & Recreation.

The initial report that City Manager Justin Clifton and Garner approved included catered lunches from Red Robin, Olive Garden and Subway.

The backlash on social media from the ever-watchful eyes of the community was swift.

Joy Brown Meredith posted, “We always find local eateries for the PS Neighborhood Picnic. It is almost hard to believe they chose these chain restaurants — and even worse with no presence in Palm Springs. Who makes these decisions?”

Tuck Broich posted, “I hope the City Council limits who provides the lunches to ONLY Palm Springs restaurants…. Two out of the three listed don’t have a location in Palm Springs….”

Dena Banes-Martin posted, “I’m the manager of The Sandwich Spot and would be open to the idea of supplying local Palm Springs students with healthy sandwiches!”

“WTF! Let’s recommend corporate chain restaurants two of which aren’t even in Palm Springs and all three of which are completely awful food!” Ron Willison posted. “What about Lulu’s, 849, F10 or anybody other this absolutely shit awful food. Teach about entrepreneurship and how you make good food and good choices.”

Councilmember Christy Holstege said she reached out to Garner before the City Council meeting expressing similar concerns. “It would be great to see taxpayer dollars go back into our own community and not large corporations,” she said.

The initial cost estimate for these lunchtime sessions is not to exceed $5,000. Sufficient funding is available in the current fiscal year City Manager budget, according to a staff report.

In recent years, the city’s recruitment for open positions has largely led to new employees from outside of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The Lunchtime Talk Program is designed to reverse the trend.

The city does not currently have an established channel to communicate and engage with high school or college students who wish to explore, learn about, and apply for vacant employment, shadowing, or internship positions within city government, according to the report. When these opportunities are available, it can be difficult to reach their audiences unless third parties, such as schools, can distribute them to students.

Mayor Lisa Middleton called it an “outstanding program.”

“Every effort that we can make to help promote young people to go into public service is something that is near and dear to my heart,” Middleton said.


Image Sources

  • Burger and fries: Shutterstock