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Lunch prices for most students at Potsdam increasing next year

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POTSDAM — Higher lunch prices may await some students returning to school this fall.

Food Services Manager David Gravlin made his recommendations for next year’s food prices to the board last week. They are expected to vote on whether to accept the recommendation at their July 9 reorganizational meeting.

“In the past, elementary portions were smaller,” he said, explaining that according to regulations enacted through the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight now receive the same portions.

Since they are receiving the same portions, Mr. Gravlin said it doesn’t make sense to him for students in pre-k through grade four and students in grades four through eight to pay different prices.

Board of education member Danielle L. Gray agreed.

“It boggles my mind that pre-k kids are getting the same portions as an eighth grader,” she said. “But if it’s exactly the same, then the prices should be, too.”

To bring the prices in line, Mr. Gravlin is suggesting raising the price of a pre-k through grade four lunch 15 cents to $2 and lowering the price of lunch for students in grades four through eight from $2.05 to $2.

Mr. Gravlin also suggested raising the price of a high school lunch from $2.05 to $2.10.

“Last year, I believe we chose not to raise prices,” he said, adding that based on last year’s sales, the increased prices would have generated an additional $5,590 in revenue.

Early in the school year, based on decreased sales as a result of the new law, Mr. Gravlin said he was projecting a loss of between $60,000 and $70,000 for the department.

“Fortunately, we responded in October,” he said, adding the cafeteria began offering a la carte sales, which, while not considered reimbursable meals by the federal government, allowed the district to circumvent the regulations on what could be served in a school cafeteria.

By the end of the year, what was once projected to be a loss of as much as $70,000 had turned into a loss of $34,500.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady explained that the district usually transfers roughly $25,000 from its general fund to the cafeteria to help balance its budget.

Mr. Gravlin also recommending increasing the price of breakfast next year from $1.10 to $1.25 for all students.

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