PLAISTOW — Lunch prices will be going up in the Timberlane school district next fall.
The School Board recently approved a recommendation from the district’s food services management company, Whitsons, to raise prices by 15 cents per lunch beginning next September.
Elementary lunches will be $2.25, middle school lunches $2.75, and high school lunches $3.“As has been explained to the board in prior years, the USDA has a paid lunch equity policy that they like to see our prices for meals that our parents pay for to be equivalent to our price from (the federal government) for a free lunch so the feds are not paying more than our local students,” said George Stokinger, the district’s business administrator.Stokinger said the federal policy is the basis of the proposed price increase by Whitsons.
While the price increase is based on federal reimbursement rates, Superintendent Earl Metzler said the administration will be back before the School Board within the next month to discuss other potential changes in the food services program associated with revenue.
“At the current rate, we’re not going to break even; we’re going to be in the hole,” said Metzler. “We are doing better than last year, but not as well as we were doing in the fall.”The food services program is currently about $60,000 in the red, according to Stokinger. Last year, the program finished about $150,000 in the red.“We are in the red, but it is certainly better than last year,” said Stokinger. “Enrollment is down some, but meals are down more than enrollment. It’s a common problem and it is the nature of food services when you are trying to provide meals for $2.50 to $2.75.
Metzler said both Whitsons and the individual cafeteria managers at the schools are working hard and have been active in communicating with the administration.“We are doing the best we can, but at the end of the day another bracketed number is a number I’m not comfortable with,” said Metzler. “We are going to have to have a deep and difficult discussion about what direction we want to go in as far as food services next year.”
Beginning later this month, parents will be responsible for paying the service fees associated with using the Nutrikids online payment system, which are similar to transaction fees that banks charge for using an ATM.Metzler said that will translate to some savings for the food services program since the district paid nearly $25,000 in fees last year.