Baker: Lunchroom profits won’t mean increase in price
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 19, 2011 | 1885 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After recently announcing that Walker County Schools’ lunchrooms this year will focus on profits, Child Nutrition Program Director Johnna Baker said she wants to ease parents’ concerns that school meals will suffer in quality or increase in price.

“We are pleased to report that the cost of meals for students will remain the same as last year,” she said.

Prices for lunch are $2 for elementary students in Walker County Schools and $2.25 for high school students. The cost of a reduce-priced lunch is 40 cents.

Baker said that, given the increased prices of food and shipping, the child nutrition staff is proud to have maintained last year’s rates.

When asked about the concerns that profits could affect standards for the meals served to children, Baker said she doesn’t think it will be an issue because state guidelines are in place to ensure the quality of the food.

Earlier this month Baker held a presentation for the Walker County Board of Education where she said the lunchrooms throughout the district will be treated like businesses with an ultimate goal of creating revenue.

Rather than raising prices for lunch, Baker said those gains can be made by cutting waste, trading supplies, monitoring utility costs and ordering supplies as needed rather than stockpiling. She also said those lunchroom workers who retire will not be replaced, and the responsibilities will be divided among the remaining staff.

Baker said she and lunchroom managers also plan to create a survey in which students can offer feedback about their food preferences. She said the questionnaires should be completed sometime in September.

The CNP program has an annual budget of about $6 million. Baker said some lunchrooms in the school system are making exceptional profits while others are $14,000 to $19,000 in the hole.

When the overall program reaches a deficit, money from the district’s general fund must make up the difference. Conversely, Baker said that, if there is a surplus in CNP program, officials can place the money into the system’s general fund during times of economic strain. She said the Walker County Schools had this opportunity in June, but the local CNP program did not have the reserve funds to help the district.

“I’m trying to build a reservoir,” she said.