Middle school adds breakfast program

Princeton Middle School head cook Donna Moses had a different sort of morning on Monday. For the first time she had to serve breakfast, as that was the day the district’s new middle school breakfast program kicked off.

Princeton Middle school began serving breakfast on Monday this week as part of a breakfast program the school board approved last week. The board on May 8 also approved raising lunch prices at all the schools by 10 cents per meal each year for a number of years, starting with the next school year.

The regular price for the middle school breakfast will be at 80 cents. Students qualifying for both free and reduced lunch prices, will receive the breakfast for free.

The district’s two elementary schools – North and South – already have a long-established breakfast program, the district having begun its breakfast program in about 1994. The high school will remain without breakfast. Breakfast can’t currently be served at the high school since the school store would be open at the same time and federal programs can’t be in competition, Princeton School District Director of Business Services Carol Breitkreutz said.

The Princeton district’s food service director, Teresa Danner, recommended the breakfast plan for the middle school, which has grades 6-8.

Breitkreutz called the 80 cent regular charge for a breakfast “probably the best deal in town.” All neighboring districts, according to Breitkreutz, charge $1.10-$1.45 per breakfast.

The district will be reimbursed at a rate of 27 cents for each fully-paid breakfast, $1.21 for each reduced-price breakfast and $1.51 for each free breakfast.

Breitkreutz described the new middle school breakfast program as a “more of a grab and go” type for students due to time constraints, but she noted that the breakfasts will meet dietary guidelines. The middle school breakfast serving time is 8-8:20 a.m.

Breitkreutz noted that an average of 95-110 students take breakfast at South Elementary and 130-140 at North Elementary.

The breakfast program is administered like the lunch program. The breakfast component is  federally-assisted and began in public and nonprofit schools in 1975.

The motion to approve the school breakfast program at the middle school included authorizing to pay the middle school head cook for 15 additional minutes each school morning to factor in the breakfast work.

A breakfast is important for daily nutrition and a lot of kids come to school not having had a breakfast, commented school board member Jeremy Miller.

“It’s a great thing,” added board member Eric Minks about the middle school breakfast idea.

School board member Erin Johnson said she hopes that the breakfast will be wholesome.

That’s why it’s a good idea that it is being started now to watch what happens in preparation for next school year, Miller responded.

Lunch price increase

The other food-related action the board took was to approve fulfilling a mandate to meet federal regulations.

It turns out to be a no-brainer, as Breitkreutz indicated, to do what the board approved for a lunch price increase. Breitkreutz explained that the regulations require the district to either charge at least $2.45 for lunch, or raise the average student lunch by at least 10 cents per meal each school year until the average lunch price is high enough to be fully in compliance.

When the district completed the PLE calculations, Breitkreutz told the board, the average lunch price would need to be $2.51 per student for compliance.

Current lunch prices in the district are $1.60 for grades K-5/ $1.70 for 6-8, and $1.80 for 9-12. District meal prices have not been raised since 2008.

The reason for making this increase, Breitkreutz told the board, is because Nutrition Program funds may not subsidize non program meals. Therefore meals must be priced high enough so the cost is fully paid by the customer/student, she said.

Breitkreutz also noted that as of Jan. 24, 2012, the district had 776 students qualifying for free lunches and 311 for reduced lunches. The cost to students qualifying for reduced lunch prices would have been 40 cents per meal had the board not authorized in January 2011 that students qualifying for reduced lunches would no longer have to pay for them in the 2011-12 school year. The board at its meeting last week passed a motion to continue that same setup through the next school year.