POTSDAM An expanded a la carte line at the high school is helping the Potsdam Central School District cope with the challenges posed by fewer students buying their lunches at the school cafeterias.
Food Services Manager David J. Gravlin told Board of Education members Tuesday the reintroduction of the a la carte line Oct. 22 has been a success to date.
You can see quite a bit of difference. Weve seen positive results, he said.
He said last year the high school averaged 157 students a day utilizing the a la carte line; the average has been 291 students a day in the first two weeks of November.
Kids are taking it and enjoying it. Hopefully it will last for a long time. Parents may tire of paying for that, and we could also see increased a la carte regulations down the road, Mr. Gravlin said.
The a la carte line features salads, bagels and snacks that have proven to be popular alternatives to the smaller, healthier choice meals that are being served in school cafeterias.
They are getting more of what they want, but they are paying for it, said Superintendent Patrick H. Brady.
School officials told Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, when he visited the school in September that fewer students were eating the school-supplied meals and more were brown-bagging their lunches because of the mandated change in school menus this year, which required more vegetables and fruits and smaller portion sizes.
The new standards, which include more whole grain, fat-free or low-fat milk, right-sized portions and limits on saturated fat, are part of the U.S. Department of Agricultures changes to meals served in schools.
The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by first lady Michelle Obama as part of her Lets Move campaign and signed into law by President Obama.
Mr. Gravlin said the sales for October were up approximately $5,000 from September, to almost $15,500 in October. But school officials said that was attributable partly to more days when lunch was served at school in addition to the a la carte sales.
School officials said they still are averaging a loss of more than 200 meals a day from last year. That has translated into a drop in food purchases and a slight decrease in salaries, according to the food services manager.
Mr. Brady said expenditures for food service to date are $123,578, down from the $144,000 spent in that same period last year.
Mr. Gravlin acknowledged it remains a challenge to balance expenses and revenues in the food service operation.
Were still struggling to feed kids reimbursable meals. Were trying to make up for that so we dont end up in a big hole. Im not satisfied where we are at financially right now, but I am pleasantly surprised. Our approach has got to be we continue to comply and do the best we can with the guidelines and hope for change, he told board members.