TAMPA — A group of parents at MacFarlane Park Elementary School figured out how to have their meatless burger and eat it, too.
No, they won't invite a health food chain inside the west Tampa school to deliver prepaid lunches.
But yes, they'll order food for their kids with this wrinkle: Volunteers will take possession of the meals off school grounds and deliver them to the kids.
"We are going to continue forward," said Tristan Schofer, a mother of three and president of the magnet school's PTA.
District officials had ended the parents' practice of sending out for children's lunches from the Evos chain, citing a districtwide food service agreement that prohibits competition.
About 44 kids took part last year, Schofer said. No money changed hands at the school, cafeteria workers were not involved, and the PTA raised about $500.
But things changed this year with a directive from the district.
And parents rebelled. "We consider this an infringement on our civil liberties," Schofer said.
Addressing the issue at Tuesday's School Board meeting, South Tampa member Candy Olson said that although some kids might not be able to afford the restaurant meals, she understands the parents' preference.
"Let's find a way to get to yes, please," she said.
At their own meeting Thursday, parents launched a petition drive, Schofer said.
Confident that their new arrangement gets around the competition issue, they plan to resume the lunch service in about 10 days.
"We feel we are within the rules and within the parameters, and we don't need their approval," Schofer said.
Hearing the plan, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said, "Parents are always allowed to bring lunch to their children."
But she could not say how officials will react to volunteers serving their own kids and, say, 20 more.
Not only that: Those at Thursday's meeting were divided between Evos and Wholesome Tummies, another health food chain.
That means the new delivery system might involve both.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.