http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2007/05/30/paying-more-for-a-lunch


Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 30, 2007

Paying more for a lunch

District to raise prices for school meals, but $200,000 food-service deficit will remain

by Susan Hong

This fall, a turkey, cheddar and bacon panini meal will cost 75 cents more at Palo Alto High School, rising to $4.25, while chicken nuggets with the fixings at the elementary schools will cost $3.75 -- also a 75 cent increase.

The price hikes are two of the ways the Palo Alto school board is trying to reduce a $600,000 food-program deficit to $200,000 a year by next February. The board adopted the plan last week on a 4-1 vote, with board member Barb Mitchell dissenting. Mitchell said she wanted to see the food-service budget at zero.

"I don't see a break-even plan, and I'm not willing to break board policy," Mitchell said.

The district's food service, run by Chartwells, has lost in total more than $1.1 million over the last five years, according to a staff report.

In addition to the price increases, in which middle-school lunches will also rise to $4.24 each, students will have to pay for food with cash or prepaid meal cards. The district will no longer accept credit cards.

Each day all elementary schools will be required to pre-order the number of lunches they plan to serve that day. Elementary schools will also have to stagger their lunch breaks.

An earlier proposal to offer pre-packaged "grab and go" lunches was not adopted.

If the increased lunch prices and pre-ordering system do not work, the district may have to do away with hot lunches altogether, Associate Superintendent Jerry Matranga said.

"We're not as far as we would like to be because it's a culture of change," Matranga said. "There has to be some consistent practices in terms of how those facilities (school sites) are managed."

"PAUSD will enforce a pre-order system so we can get closer to the actual number of lunches we actually have to feed," Matranga added.

"Teachers are going to have to be willing" to pre-order lunches, he added. "Secretaries are going to have to be willing to call it in every day."

Parents of elementary school students will be able to pre-order lunches for their children online, Matranga said.

The only way to ensure food services gets back in the black next year would be to close both high school campuses for lunch, Matranga said.

Student board members Molly Kawahara from Gunn High and Peter Lo from Paly protested the idea of keeping teens from leaving school for lunch, saying open campuses promote "trust" and "freedom." Under the adopted plan, high school campuses will remain open during lunch time.

The board also renewed its contract with Chartwells.

Staff Writer Susan Hong can be reached at shong@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Elem Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 3:15 pm

hmm staggering lunches at elementary schools. There are two ways of looking at this.

Staggering lunches between elementary schools, some starting at 11.30 and others at 12.30. Yes I can understand that this may save money as less drivers would be needed to drive the food to the schools. But those poor little tummies having to wait until 1.20 when they have been used to eating at 11.40.

Staggering lunches between grades at the same school. Yes the three younger grades eating 20 mins before the three older grades, could be done, but I can see all sorts of problems staffing this. From added costs for noon yard duty, problems with lunch time all grade activities and lack of teaching staff having together time, make this a lot more inconvenient than it first appears.

The cost, we will have to accept. The pre-ordering is just good common sense.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Many elementary schools already stagger lunch k-2 15 minutes after 3-5


Posted by Flava Full, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2007 at 5:02 pm

If the students are going to be charged more money for lunch would it be possible to find a service that would supply more desirable food? My elementary child swears that the carrots that are served at the first of the year are the same one he sees at the end of the year (and he likes carrots). Can't we get more creative with Subway, Jamba, etc. on preordered lunches especially at the high school level?


Posted by Flava Full, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2007 at 5:03 pm

If the students are going to be charged more money for lunch would it be possible to find a service that would supply more desirable food? My elementary child swears that the carrots that are served at the first of the year are the same one he sees at the end of the year (and he likes carrots). Can't we get more creative with Subway, Jamba, etc. on preordered lunches especially at the high school level?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Please let the Board know before Tuesday if you have any comments. They will be voting then. It will be a busy evening for them because they will also have a presentation by the AAAG and more to do with MI.


Posted by eric, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2007 at 11:29 am

JAMBA? So, you want to supplement your kids high cholestoral with some aditional sugar? Good grief! Send them to school with a healthy lunch!


Posted by Flava full, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Hmmm, I thought that we were discussing the issues of lunches served at school (not lunches sent to school). For eric's education, JAMBA All Fruit Smoothies contain 100% pure fruit and fruit juices and there are no processed sugars, artificial colors or preservatives--can't get much healthier than that in my book. The point that I was trying to make is that it is time to think "outside the lunch box" and find something that the kids will find nutritious and good to eat. Given that they have such little time for lunch a healthy drink still makes it easy to socialize and even take it into class (high school) to finish.