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School Committee Postpones Food Contract Approval

The School Committee raised the price of lunch for next year but, unhappy with the quality of lunches, postponed approving a new contract until it meets with the food services director.

 

The School Committee raised the school lunch price for next year by 10 cents Wednesday night, but postponed approving the new food service contract for next year after a discussion about the quality of the food served.

The price increase is mandated by the federal government, which requires that the schools charge at least the same amount as the federal government reimburses the schools for free lunches, said Business Manager Edward Cronin.

The lunch price in the elementary schools will go from $2.30 to $2.40 per meal. Middle and high school students will pay $2.65 instead of $2.55.

If the committee refused to raise the lunch prices, the federal government would not reimburse the school district for the free lunches, but would require that the school district provide the free lunches, Cronin said.

The number of free lunches, paid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is expected to rise by about 25 percent next year for Swampscott schools. That increase reflects the economic times, Cronin said.

In its fourth year of a five year contract, the schools' food service vendor, Chartwell Division of Compass USA, proposed to cut the district's subsidy of food service by about $10,000 -- from $53,322 to $43,313.

Cronin, who praised Chartwell's performance over the past three years, said the district would have to pay less because of increased efficiencies by Chartwell.

Unhappy with the Food Quality

But the school committee, led by student representative Dan Bromberg, were not so happy with the food service. Bromberg said he has heard frequent complaints from students about the food service. Many criticisms, he said, were juvenile, but others he considered were valid. He complained that the cafeteria served iceberg lettuce, which is less nutritional than other lettuce. He also said vegetarian students have little choice.

The committee members said they had heard similar complaints from students and parents. They postponed the vote on the new contract until they could meet with food service director Maureen Kellett to discuss ways to improve the food service without increasing the costs to students or the district.

 


A+ Schools June 07, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Terry - Have any of the five School Committee Members eaten a school lunch at any or all the buildings?
Citizen Swamp June 08, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Terry, Perhaps Mr. Cronin could summarize the revenue impact of "free & reduced lunches", does it not drive additional revenue to the school district which results in a net gain for the district for the cafeteria service as well as other federal aid tied to "poverty/wealth levels"? CS
Terry Date (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Allen, I do not know if they have but it sounds like they were acting on what they heard from Dan, the student rep. to the board, and what he has heard from some students. I will ask some of the board members next time I see them.
Terry Date (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Hi School Lunch, We checked with the business manager on the lard comment and he said he would not and did not say that.
Terry Date (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
We spoke to Ed Cronin and will post his full response as a You Asked Patch Answers column on Monday. The district receives about $100,000 a year from the federal government in reimbursement for the free and reduced lunches in the school district, the business manager said.
Daniel Bromberg June 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM
How did they end up voting last night?
Terry Date (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Thumbs up, Daniel. We'll have a story tomorrow morning.

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