Price of school lunches may go up in Londonderry
LONDONDERRY — As district officials struggle to remain in the black, the school’s food service director warned that a price hike for hot lunches is likely in the next school year.
During a recent meeting with the Londonderry School Board, Food Services Director Nancy Faucon said the department suffered a $17,000 operating loss last year, which she attributed mostly to the district’s overall declining enrollment.
Right now, the district’s hot lunch costs remain below state average.
Elementary school lunches cost $1.70 versus the state average of $2.09, while middle school lunches cost $2 as opposed to the state average of $2.31. High school lunches cost $2.10, still lower than the state average of $2.58.
Faucon said that despite a slight price increase next year, those rates would still come in below state average.
Still, a survey of parents and students completed earlier this fall indicated many would be unhappy with a price increase.
In response, the district’s cafeteria staff are trying to find ways to increase revenue in other ways.
This year, school officials launched a breakfast program at the middle school, along with separate lunch lines for those getting lunch or just a snack.
“We’re seeing positive results already though it’s too soon to quantify those results,” Faucon said.
Business Administrator Peter Curro said about 250 people responded to the food service survey, which was completed this past fall.
“It wasn’t a big number, but it certainly gave us some ideas,” Curro said.
In addition to cost concerns, survey participants said the meals aren’t always what the students want and many said they’d like to see more variety and better quality.
He said facility renovations and expansions would be necessary in the coming years in order to expand the current menus.
“Honestly, I’m not sure how much more we can do,” Curro said. “Variety is subject to the amount of kitchen space we have, but we are trying to address this at the high school right now.”
Plans are also in the works to keep the high school and possibly the middle school kitchens open for about 20 minutes after school.
“We have a lot of kids who are involved in various after-school activities and athletics programs,” Curro said, noting that an unused storage room in the high school cafeteria might be converted to some sort of a snack or salad bar.
Additional staff wouldn’t be needed to handle the additional kitchen time, officials said.