District eyes hiking lunch prices

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Like everything else, the price of lunch will probably rise once again in all cafeterias in the Punxsutawney Area School District due to federal guidelines.

Lesa Conner, board member and chairperson for the cafeteria committee, said at Wednesday’s board committee meeting that the board is looking at raising the price of school lunches by $0.05 for the 2011-12 school year.

Conner said the reason for the increase is so the district will be in compliance with the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, which is looking for the district to increase the price of lunches over the next several years.
There are alternatives to raising prices, one of which could possibly be fund-raising, Conner said, adding that the money raised will be put towards holding the line on lunch prices.

Conner said the cafeteria committee is looking at having only one food choice per station in the food court at Punxsutawney Area High School to save money and eliminate waste.

Business Manager Susan Robertson said if the district doesn’t raise lunch prices, it could lose all its federal funding for the cafeterias.

She also said the board will have to raise the price for the next school year, but in the future, it could hold off price increases if it did the fund-raising.

Board member Bob Pascuzzo said he would like more information regarding the raising of prices, noting that a few years ago, the district was forced to serve certain items on its menu after joining the Wellness Program, which it did not have to do.

Currently, the full price for elementary lunches is $1.80, with a reduced price of $0.40; middle school full price for grades four and five is $1.80, with a reduced price of $0.40; full price for grades six and seven is $1.90, with a reduced price of $0.40; high school full price is $1.90, with a reduced rate of $0.40.

Robertson said the district was not planning to raise the price of lunches for Head Start students since it was increased this year.

Board President Gary Conrad said if the federal government said the district must raise the price for lunches, there’s no choice.

Robertson said money the district receives in reimbursements for lunches ranges anywhere from $65,000 to $85,000 per month from the federal government.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting:

• Board member Penny Pierce asked Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe why more of the district’s administrators don’t attend the board’s committee meeting.

Pierce said it would help the board if more administrators or supervisors could attend the meeting to answer questions.

Wolfe said this year, it was decided that only Richard Galluzzi, director of curriculum and federal programs, and Cheryl Repik, director of transportation, should attend committee meetings.

Phil Heitzenrater, maintenance supervisor, and Denise Geist, cafeteria manager, had never attended meetings before this year, and would continue to attend on as-needed basis, Wolfe said.

Board member Roberta Dinsmore said she, too, would like to have other administrators or department heads attend so the board could ask questions that only they can answer.

Wolfe said he could have administrators attend committee meetings if that’s what board members would like to see.