, Derry, New Hampshire

November 21, 2013

School lunch program losing money

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — There are fewer students eating school lunches these days and that is costing the school district money.

That was the word from district Business Administrator Peter Curro, who said records show a loss of about $17,000 in the food service program last year, due in part to lower enrollment numbers.

The district could see higher prices for hot lunches next year to help make up some of those losses, Curro said, although early numbers in the current school year are looking better than last year’s totals.

Londonderry still has some of the lowest lunch prices for Class L schools.

Right now, elementary school lunches cost $1.70, far below the state average of $2.09. Middle school lunches cost $2, again, less than the state average of $2.31.

At the high school, hot lunch costs $2.10, almost 20 percent less that the statewide average of $2.58.

To help study the district’s food service program, a survey went out to families to see what they liked or didn’t like about the food program.

More than 250 people responded to the survey.

Curro said many responses listed menu choices as a concern. Many respondents asked for more variety and some people said there wasn’t enough time to eat.

Survey results can warrant some changes, Curro said, including ideas about keeping the high school kitchen open to provide food to students participating in after-school clubs and programs.

Another idea is to utilize a supply room area at the high school to convert it into a salad bar/snack bar area.

These are all things that could generate more revenue for the program, he said.

Food service director Nancy Faucon said more students took advantage of breakfast at the middle school level and many are part of the free and reduced meal program.

“That’s a nice revenue to have,” she said.

At the high school, about 100 students eat breakfast. Fewer eat breakfast at the middle school, Faucon said, with only about four or five students participating.

Curro said he hopes the food service program will end in the black this year.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.