Voorheesville opts back in to federal lunch program

VOORHEESVILLE — After leaving the federal lunch program because students rejected the healthier food and disliked smaller portions, the school district has signed on for next year to receive aid.

The school board members had a hearty back-and-forth dialogue at their last meeting, Aug. 18, about the school-lunch budget and ultimately decided to raise most prices.

The lunch budget for this coming school year — which begins Sept. 4 — reflects a 25-cent increase in all lunches except for the “special lunch,” which will be 25 cents cheaper than last year.

The “special lunch” is served around three times per week — only in the middle and high schools — and features a less common lunch, such as soup and a Rueben sandwich. Special lunches will be $4.25.

Lunch at the elementary school will be $2.75, and lunch at the middle and high schools will be $3.25.

“Our increase in lunch price has something to do with students,” Teresa Thayer Snyder, superintendent at Voorheesville, told The Enterprise last week, “but more to do with the prices of produce.”

Over the last couple of school years, much of that produce has gone to waste, as students struggled to adjust to the new lunch standards set by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

The new standards change the portion sizes students receive, as well as the kinds of foods to be served.

Voorheesville Central School District was participating in the program, but opted out for the end of the 2012-13 school year and all of the 2013-14 school year. This year, the school is opting back in — to the benefit of the students, and the district’s finances.

Charles Snyder, assistant superintendent for business at Voorheesville, told The Enterprise last week that the federal program provides a reimbursement of $3 per meal to the school for students who are in the free and reduced lunch program.

Students eligible for the reduced lunch program pay 25 cents for their meal.

Asked why the school opted out in the first place, Thayer Snyder said, “The kids weren’t eating and we were throwing out a lot of good food.”

The district opted back in to get the federal reimbursement as well as to have the students be happy buying lunches, Thayer Snyder said.

While the number of students buying lunches has been increasing, the superintendent thinks that opting back into the program will be “an adjustment process” for students.

“We don’t anticipate a big change” in the number of students buying lunches, the assistant superintendent for business said.

Help for fourth grade

Other changes for the coming school year include staffing for the large fourth-grade class, which parents are still discussing at board meetings because the class is so large.

There will be four sections of fourth grade, three will have kids with special needs. Each section will have a regular education teacher, as well as a teaching assistant, and a special education teacher will float through each of the fourth-grade sections exclusively. Also, a teaching aid will assist with clerical work such as setting up bulletin boards and passing out papers.

Asked how many adults will be in a classroom at once, Thayer Snyder said, “Almost always two, maybe three, and up to four.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Announced the construction on the middle and high school roof should be done by the week before school starts. Work was originally supposed to be completed last week, but rain caused numerous delays, pushing back the completion date;

— Approved a Model United Nations field trip to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island for two days in November. The Model UN club is made up of high school students, mostly in ninth through eleventh grades;

— Awarded a bid for fresh produce to Father’s Produce Inc., based in Delmar; and

— Accepted four donations, totaling $4,300.



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