Story by Shelley R. Clapper
At the Greenwood Lake School Board business meeting held on Wed., Feb. 15, Heather Bigley, from H.M.B. Consultants, provided an operational and financial assessment report of the child nutrition program in the Greenwood Lake schools. H.M.B. Consultants is a food management company that works with over 25 school districts in New York State.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Ann Lierow introduced Bigley who was brought in to do an analysis of the school breakfast and lunch program, hoping to increase participation and profitability. In the past, the program has run at $130,000 over the budget and last year it was $91,000 over the budget. Bigley said that G.L. had passed the Department of Health’s twice yearly inspections with no violations.
Recommendations Already Taking Effect
Bigley reported that the nutritional program overall is very well run and she has seen immediate progress. The breakfast and lunch menus have been separated online and the breakfast menu is reported on the morning bus to school, based on her recommendations. She also recommended to Alan Muhlnickel, the Food Services Manager, that the kitchen make every attempt to keep to the menu. Muhlnickel is working with the vendors to assure that the school is receiving the lowest cost and highest quality.
Costing Out Menu Items
One of the general recommendations she made was costing the price of the menu items to make sure that the cost of the item does not exceed the meal price. She gave the example of having a muffin, fruit and milk for breakfast which costs more than the meal price. Her recommendation was that they make their own muffins in the kitchen. Bigley also suggested that middle school students should be offered an alternate entrée as they are encouraged to make their own decisions.
Bigley concluded that the G.L. program is well run and the staff asked a lot of questions, indicating their level of care.
Superintendent Dr. Christine Ackerman thanked Bigley for her overview. Bigley’s final recommendation was to increase meal prices by fifty cents, but Ackerman didn’t think this should happen in the middle of the school year.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Lierow said, “There are days when 38 students buy lunch as opposed to other days when 80 students buy lunch.” She suggested that if less than 40 students buy lunch that food item should be discontinued. Lierow asked Bigley about the option of pulling out of the State meal program. Bigley replied that she would not recommend it at G.L. as 20 to 30 percent of the students use the free or reduced fee lunch program.
Next Board Meetings
The next School Board business meeting will be held on Wed., Mar. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Elementary School gymnasium, located at 80 Waterstone Rd. The Board will hold budget workshops on Mon., Mar. 20 and Wed., Mar. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School library, located at 1247 Lakes Rd. in Monroe.