Nearly $20,000 was allotted this week for what might become five months of cafeteria lunch specials for public school students in Manassas Park next semester, should the Y2K disaster the city is preparing for fizzle.

The Manassas Park City Council approved the purchase of $19,200 of canned and nonperishable foods Tuesday to stock the city's year 2000 emergency center at Manassas Park Middle School. If Manassas Park experiences a digital disaster, with power outages across the city, the shelter would house as many as 450 people. The food, to be financed from the city's emergency reserve budget, would be enough to feed the crowd for six days.

If the food is not used, the council is hoping to sell the canned goods to the schools. But School Superintendent Thomas DeBolt isn't so sure.

"There's only so much canned chicken and tuna that teenagers will eat," he said.

Although the approval was just the latest in a series of steps the city has taken to ensure a smooth transition to New Year's Day 2000 (the city rented generators to run the shelter and also approved the rental of fuel tanks Tuesday), even the mayor seemed skeptical.

"We don't need this food," Mayor Ernest L. Evans (R) said. "Y2K is going to go fine. This Y2K is scaring the hell out of everybody."

The council also decided to appoint a new member to the seat held by council member Douglas M. Parks, who died earlier this month. Under state law, the council must advertise the vacancy and appoint a new member within 45 days of a death. Because Parks's term expires in less than a year, no special election needs to be held, said City Attorney John Bellaschi.

The final date to submit a resume is Nov. 12. The council will interview applicants from Nov. 12 to 30. On Nov. 30, a public hearing will be held, and the council will hold a vote, at which time the new member will be appointed.