Schools to kids: Eat your veggies!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
MILFORD – The elementary schools seem to be having no more luck than parents in getting children to eat fruits and green vegetables.
Fewer kids have been buying lunches at school, probably because of changes required by new federal lunch regulations.
And the result is a deficit in the food service account, Superintendent Robert Suprenant told the Milford School Board last week.
Intended to improve children’s diets, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 says schools must offer fruits and vegetables daily, offer more whole grain foods, serve only fat-free and low-fat milk, and limit the amount of grains and meat served each week.
The intention is to reduce childhood obesity and improve children’s diets.
Suprenant said two-thirds of the $67,000 deficit was from students buying fewer lunches and the remaining one-third is due to increased spending, partly on overtime and summer hours for kitchen managers who need more time to prepare the new menus.
Suprenant said during the previous year, there was a $16,000 food
service deficit. In the years before that, there was no deficit, with the cost and revenue balancing out.
The district has little choice on how to make up the deficit, he said. It can raise lunch prices, but that’s not a desirable option – Milford’s lunch prices for the elementary schools are low compared to area schools, although the middle and high schools’ prices are on the high side.
“I’m very reluctant” to raise prices, “but it’s worthy of consideration,” the superintendent told the School Board.
The other option is to use the district’s budget surplus, a surplus that was the good news portion of Suprenant’s good news/bad news budget message to the board.
The surplus, called the fund balance, is $733,487 and it will be returned to taxpayers, he said. Most of the money came from spending less than anticipated. There was also $68,452 in unanticipated revenue.
The board agreed that the lunch issue should be studied further.
School officials are planning to survey parents and other community members this year, and questions about lunch could be part of that survey, they said.
The school lunch program is part of a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It is intended to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.
Last year, the New York Times reported protests in some schools and increased food waste in other schools after changes required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@