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Healthy lunch options added to school menus

August 25, 2010
The Student Council has spoken – an expanded list of healthy lunch choices have been added to the school district's menu this year for a maximum increase of 50 cents per meal.

School Board members agreed to increase food service prices Monday night by 35 to 50 cents to offer students expanded lunch choices and more nutritional options this year.

Options will include an a la carte salad bar or a deli bar offered to students three times a week.

Superintendent of Business Scott Isabelle said the food service price has not increased since 1999, and after students came to the administration with ideas of their own, it seemed time to give school lunch an upgrade.

Lunches are currently cheaper than lunch service fees at other school districts and would not exceed $2.15 per meal if the maximum 50 cents was applied, compared to the usual $1.65 per meal, which Isabelle said did not allow for a full spectrum of choices.

"We haven't increased food costs since '99 since we were being mindful of projects we had going forward and the economy. There's a concern that the price of produce has sky-rocketed," said Isabelle.

Isabelle said the percentage of GHS students who buy school lunch has increased by 20 percent, which means one out of every five students buys lunch, along with a 17 to 18 percent increase in Gilford Elementary and Gilford Middle School students who purchase school lunch.

He added that lunch prices will still be based on family income.

Board member Derek Tomlinson said he had no problem with the proposal, and still felt the proposed $2 average price per meal was reasonable.

"I think it is still inexpensive even with the increase," said Tomlinson. "It's still less than many other school districts, other than Winnisquam."

Isabelle said the economy has not greatly improved and felt that by exceeding the 50-cent increase, the district may be asking too much from families in need of financial help.

Tomlinson asked if the price would go down if the school district offered a better lunch to its students, and as a result, more students then purchased lunch.

Isabelle said ideally, yes, but because additional a la carte items such as salads and produce tend to be more expensive now and imported from other countries, the district may actually lose a few dollars on salad versus hot lunch items.

"Kids will be making healthier choices," said board member Rae Mellow-Andrews, "and to me, that's well worth the money."

Board members voted in favor of the 35 to 50-cent food service increase in order to offer students expanded healthier choices at lunch time. They decided that breakfast will remain as is.

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