DERRY — Homemade soups and chicken pot pies might not make the cafeteria cut when it comes to counting calories.
Students enjoying school district lunches may not find any more of these items on the menu as the school district works to make sure lunches follow federal government guidelines for calories and nutritional content.
Derry’s food service program is making the changes needed to follow those guidelines, according to district Business Administrator Jane Simard, part of the federal government’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Simard, along with district food service director Susan Boroskas, told the School Board food service staff are using the guidelines set down by the federal government to make sure students are eating the proper amount of fruits, vegetables, sodium and fats.
Next year, lunch prices will also increase 10 cents per meal, up to $2.30 for elementary meals and $2.40 for the middle schools.
The government reimburses the district for meals, but some popular items don’t make the cut when it comes to adding up the calories.
Boroskas must follow a strict program when planning menus to meet all federal regulations.
That often means a lack of creativity on the part of those staffing the school kitchens.
“We have ladies at Hood who make soup daily,” Boroskas said, “but the soup doesn’t fit (into the formula) as a reimbursed meal. We’re not allowed to be as creative.”
It’s also a lot more work. Guidelines can also change year to year.
“We have no choice but to comply,” Simard said. “But I’m very proud of the program.”
School Board member Neal Ochs told Boroskas he appreciated all the hard work she does feeding the district’s children.
“But it’s a shame the federal government gets involved in being the food police,” Ochs said. “But we appreciate all the efforts you put in.”
Simard also urged parents to bring their children’s lunch accounts up to date as the school year draws to a close so the self-funded food service wouldn’t have to rely on any regular budget money to help fill the gaps.