POTTSTOWN PA – Prices for lunch and breakfast meals sold to students at the Pottsgrove School District‘s five cafeterias will increase between 4- and 7-percent during the 2012-2013 academic year, the Board of School Directors agreed last Tuesday (May 8, 2012), driven primarily by new federal regulations intended to serve kids healthier food, the district’s food services vendor said.
Directors voted unanimously to raise the price of elementary school meals by 10 cents, and of secondary school meals by 15 cents. Consequently, students who buy breakfast will pay $1.40 daily; and who buy lunch will pay $2.50 daily in Lower Pottsgrove, West Pottsgrove and Ringing Rocks elementaries, $2.80 in the middle school, and $2.95 in the high school.
By comparison, lunch and breakfast prices during the current year rose only 5 cents each across all schools.
The board also renewed a one-year management contract with Chartwells School Dining Services to operate the district meal program.
What worries Chartwells’ District Manager Skip Daino most is whether some portions of the upgraded meals – federal law now dictates that one of five items on the plate must be a fruit or vegetable – will ever see the inside of students’ mouths. Although the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will force Pottsgrove to distribute the extra items (students won’t be able to leave lunch lines without them), it cannot guarantee they’ll eat them, Daino noted.
“We’ve already decided we have to work pretty hard to educate students” about the value of downing their fruits and veggies, Daino explained. “It will mean we take a different approach to marketing lunches.”
One part of that effort, he said, involves variety. On any given day required items might consist of fresh baby carrots or celery, apples and oranges, and other choices. Daino said cafeteria employees also are rewriting menus to make them more appealing, and hope to introduce meals that successfully combine the fruit-or-vegetable serving into different dishes.
Will students be fooled, or persuaded, into consuming what’s good for them rather than just what they like? “I hope students do end up eating them,” rather than waste them, Daino said. “We’re going to monitor it very closely.”
In answer to questions raised during the board meeting, Chartwells will be unable to reclaim unwanted foods for donation to local soup kitchens or food pantries. “Once those items are counted in the lunch line, even if they’re not trashed, we can’t take them back,” Daino said, citing liability issues.
Still, Daino told directors he expects the cafeterias’ operation will succeed despite the new challenges. He predicted the district would earn a profit next year of $4,244 on its food services budget of $1.364 million.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ May 8 meeting):
- Pottsgrove Students Will Pay More For Cafeteria Meals
- Big Buys, Big Savings, Or So Pottsgrove Schools Hope
- Pottsgrove Board Approves $59.32M Tentative Budget
- Tentative Budget Approval On Pottsgrove’s Agenda
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