Overseeing School Food Service

By Charles K. Trainor

During these difficult economic times, school districts have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for free and reduced-price meals for children. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, play a pivotal role in providing more than 30.5 million students with nutritious meals.

In 2008, expenditures for these school programs were expected to exceed $12 billion in cash and subsidized purchases of excess farm production. However, not all schools receive federal subsidies. Not surprisingly, the increased costs of transportation, wages, and benefits continue to put pressure on school-based food service operations.

The School Nutrition Association, a nonprofit organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide food services to students across the U.S., surveyed 1,200 food service directors last summer. Responses indicated that almost 60 percent of their districts were raising prices by a median of 25 cents per lunch.

But whether federal taxes or parents pay the bill, there is no free lunch. School food service programs are big business. 

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.