The lunch program for the Sag Harbor School District is nearly out of the “red zone,” according to those in the department and district business manager Len Bernard.
Cafeteria manager Lisa Koehne and Bernard jointly gave a presentation to the board of education on Monday night, to show the status of the lunch program and its performance from September 2008 through January 2009. The only situation preventing the program from being at a self-funding status, according to both speakers, is the purchase of a new cash register, software and trays. The items were bought this school year to help the lunch line move more quickly and for the entire department to work more efficiently. The purchases were also made to keep better track of expenditures and profits from the lunch program, which had been “a mess” in years past, according to School Board President Walter Wilcoxen.
“The program was something that was a mess for a long time,” Wilcoxen said, “We wanted to support the program but it had to support itself too.”
Bernard explained the average daily receipts for the 2008-2009 are $871 compared to $761 from the 2007-2008 school year. That, he said, is a difference of $110 per day.
Koehne explained there were only three students who pre-paid last school year, and this school year, the program hosts about 70 pre-paid students.
Bernard further explained that last year, the lunch program was around $20,000 in the red. This year it was necessary that the lunch program be completely self-funded in order to continue to function.
The total cost of the lunch program for the 2008-2009 school year is $95,300. Bernard added, however, the program is only in the red by $6,700 and by taking out the purchases of new trays, software and the cash register – the program would be fiscally supporting itself. Further, Koehne and Bernard predicted by the end of the school year the program will be running with a profit.
Bill Madsen is the district’s athletic director, head of buildings and grounds and is in charge of wellness for the district. He explained at the meeting that all the food being served in the cafeteria currently complies with the federal government’s nutrition policy. He and Koehne have been working together to get vending machines which will also offer food up to those required standards.
Â Madsen said the vending machines would not only add revenue to the lunch program, but also offer nutritional choices for kids who participate in after school activities.
Koehne added the vending machines are free.
Other ideas for adding revenue to the department includes partnering with the Bridgehampton School district, to supply “bagged lunches.” Bernard explained the Sag Harbor School district did supply lunches to Bridgehampton when they worked with a previous company.
Koehne agreed this would be a good money-making tool, but argued this may not be feasible with only three employees working in the department on limited cooking appliances.
Koehne said there is a stove, “sitting in the basement, wrapped up,” and it would add productivity to the lunch program.
Â “With a little up-front investment, it could really pay for itself over the next few years,” Bernard said.