Kaneland High to stay out of federal lunch program

Posted2/28/2017 5:30 AM

Kaneland High School students won't pay a dime more for their hot lunches next school year, but students at Kaneland Harter Middle School will.

The school board set prices for lunches Monday night.


The middle schoolers will pay $2.90 per hot meal, as required by federal law, even though the lunches cost the district just $2.80. The law is applicable because the school receives federal money through the National School Lunch Program.

The high school hot lunch will stay at $3.

The reduced-price lunch fee for the middle and high schools will remain at 40 cents per lunch.

The high school dropped out of the national lunch program this year because of dissatisfaction with the menu limitations imposed. It now offers more choices for entrees and a la carte items.

Through the first five months of the school year, the number of full-price lunches bought at the high school increased 4.3 percent, and reduced-price lunches rose 62 percent. Free lunches have dropped 34 percent.

Revenue per school day has remained about the same, but expenses have increased.

Salaries and benefits for workers increased. The district also replaced some cash registers and spent about $4,000 repairing a dish-washing machine.

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"Our major goal at this point is to increase participation in hot lunch and a la carte," said Julie-Ann Fuchs, associate superintendent of Kaneland Community Unit School District 302.

The board briefly discussed increasing the high school's reduced-price fee to 75 cents. But board member Peter Lopatin suggested increasing prices for a la carte items instead.

Food Service Director Gigi Gochee-Statler noted that this year high schoolers could have cheeseburgers, unlike last year. And if the school stayed with the federal program, next year she likely couldn't serve hot dogs because the government is decreasing the amount of sodium allowed, she said.

Predicting what the teens will eat is a bit of a guessing game, she said. The first time she offered a new entree this year, a chicken pesto and Swiss cheese grilled sandwich, 180 sold. The next time, just 70.


The third time? Three hundred.

She will survey the high-schoolers later this spring.

Board member Ryan Kerry praised Gochee-Statler.

"Somehow you get my sixth-grade daughter to eat things she won't touch at home," Kerry said.

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