School District Seeks Payment of Outstanding Lunch Bills

The Derry Cooperative School District Food Service program is ending the year with a small balance, the result of reduced participation and a corresponding reduction of expenses. But Business Manager Jane Simard wants those with outstanding balances to pay up or see the district about a payment plan, so other children won’t have to go hungry.

Simard gave her final report for FY 2012-13 at the June 11 School Board meeting. Simard said that while the total amount of paid meals for Derry’s seven schools was down $88,000 and the department is down 80 percent in revenue, she and Food Service Director Susan Baroskas have reduced expenditures by $96,000. “We are buying fewer supplies, less food, and having less staff,” she said. She has eliminated 1.5 positions for 2013-14, she said.

But she still has six openings for next year’s kitchen staff, including replacements for two women who are retiring. She is ending the year with a profit of $49,000, Simard said.
Simard said there have not been many changes in the number of students on the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program.

Grinnell Elementary School has the highest number, with 45.38 percent, and East Derry Memorial Elementary School has the lowest, with 14.39 percent. Grinnell will once again qualify for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program grant, she said.

The one number that has gone up is the amount of unpaid balances for school lunches, $8,200 at press time. The district has to cover the cost of the unpaid lunches, Simard said. “We are willing to work out a payment plan,” Simard said. And if parents are struggling, she and her staff are ready to talk to them about Free and Reduced lunches.

She recently sent letters to last year’s eighth-graders, now concluding their freshman years at Pinkerton Academy, about their still-outstanding balances. Some parents, Simard said, “had no idea” their children were eating lunch without paying. This is partly due to the new federal regulations requiring the register to be at the end of the line, Simard said, adding, “I will not take a lunch tray away from a student.”
Those with questions or outstanding balances are urged to call the district office at 432-1210.