School Ditches Federal Lunch Program, Becomes Profitable


When school officials at a Pennsylvania high school decided to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, they reaped unexpected rewards.

According to Trib Live, students at Penn-Trafford High School had fewer choices, longer lines, and the school district was losing money on its food service program despite funding from the National School Lunch Program, which had been providing approximately $40,000 worth of reimbursements.

District business manager Brett Lago reports that lunch sales are up about $50,000 over last year, despite the loss of reimbursement funding from the government.

Today, prices for school lunches range from $3.20 to $4.50. “The participation has gone from about 25 to 45 percent, and we’re still providing free lunches to all those students who would have been eligible under the school lunch program,” Lago said, noting that students used to throw away foods that were mandated in the national program, mostly fruits and vegetables. National School Lunch Program guidelines also limit what school cafeterias can serve in terms of calorie and sodium content.

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Since revamping its menu, the high school’s cafeteria now resembles a food court, complete with a deli and panini station, a grill, a main course counter, and pizza and a la carte stations. Students interviewed by Trib Live said they were much happier with the changes.

Lago also said he was pleased with the district’s decision to opt out of the federal program for the high school because it makes much more sense. “Kids at that age, they’re a little more informed and better at making smart choices for themselves because we still have a lot of healthy options. But, as far as meal guidelines, you can’t say that a 300-pound football player and a 90-pound cheerleader have the same needs on a daily basis.”

H/T: Trib Live

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