|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - March 2010
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LISD looking to end cafeteria losses
Polk County Enterprise
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Food service revenues are falling far short of costs for providing breakfast and lunch to about 3,000 students in the district, according to report to trustees by Assistant Superintendent Janan Moore during a school board meeting Monday. Food service is the one area of district operations that should break-even, Moore said. Under current procedures the district has lost about $124,801 in reimbursement revenue. Moore met with principals and food service supervisors from all campuses recently. One of the measures to be implemented almost immediately is to begin serving breakfast to kindergarten through 8th grade students in their classrooms for free. A free breakfast is currently served to those younger students in campus cafeterias, but only about half the students are eating, according to Moore. That breaks down to about 38 percent of the students that qualify for free meals, 45 percent of those on reduced price meals and 19 percent who pay full price. “My philosophy is if our kids on free/ reduced meals are not eating at school, chances are they're just not eating," Moore said. “If kids aren’t eating before school and they’re not eating lunch, I don’t know if they can be nurtured to be productive learners,” Moore said. A recent costs analysis of supplies food and labor put the cost per meal at $2.52. Federal programs reimburse the district $2.68 per meal. The State of Texas kicks in 27 cents a meal. The district can help offset more of the cost for the food service program by allocating utility costs and a reasonable allowance for equipment depreciation in the food service budget. Moore also advised the board that the district needed to take immediate action to allow junior high and high school students to get a reimbursable meal through any of the four meal lines at their respective campuses. Currently, free lunch students must use a single line and many students just don’t even bother to go through the line because they don’t like the menu for the day. At the high school campus, only 55 percent of the students who qualify for free or reduced price meals go through the line. At the junior high, 64 percent of free and reduced-price qualifiers go through the line. Under the immediate changes approved by the board, Moore expects to increase breakfast service to 85 percent of elementary and intermediate students. Teachers will participate in a pilot breakfast in the classroom program on a voluntary basis. Moore said they will start with food choices that are easy to serve and pose the least risk of spills or other accidents. “Other districts I’ve talked with advocate the classroom project, but they say don’t serve pancakes the first week,” Moore added. Breakfast will continue to be available at secondary campus cafeterias. The full price is $1, with reduced price qualifiers paying 30 cents. During the 2007-08 school year, the department missed budget projections by $222,389, according to Moore’s report. During 2008-09 they met the budget set out by local officials with a $23,189 budget surplus. So far for the 2009/2010 they are on target for a $25,000 budget surplus. Trustees asked Moore if embarrassment factors in students’ choice not to get a meal. Under current procedures, a students cannot distinguish whether the child in line with them is paying for their lunch or qualifies for assistance. Under the Lunch Money Now plan, parents pay money into an account for their children and students swipe a card as they are served, so there are no cash transactions in line. For more information on Monday’s meeting of Livingston I.S.D. trustees, see Sunday’s edition.