SAD 17 meal program may lose reimbursement

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SAD 17 Directors react to information provided by Food Service Director Jodi Truman  at the November 5 Board of Directors meeting.

PARIS — The SAD 17 Board of Directors were told at its Nov. 5 meeting  that the district’s self-sustaining meal program had a Fund Balance of $388 667, as of June 3o, but officials say it may not be the financial windfall in the future that it appears to be now.

“It’s not a good as you may think,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts told the Board of Directors following a program review by Food Service Director Jodi Truman and Business Manager Cathy Coffey.

The food service program, which has been operating under a CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) grant for the past four years reimburses the district for free and reduced breakfast and free lunch sales.

SAD 17 receives the CEP grant because more than 40 percent of the district students are eligible for food stamps or TANIFF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.)

But officials say it is possible the district will not be eligible for the grant next year because of a 13 percent drop in CEP eligible students.

Truman told the directors that the district serves 1,600 reimbursable breakfasts per day and 2,000 reimbursable lunches each day. A total of 455 a-la-carte items are sold daily as well.

Under the CEP reimbursement plan for the district, each free lunch is reimbursed at $3.44; each reduced lunch is reimbursed at $3.04 and each meal students pay full price for is reimbursed at 44 cents.

Each free breakfast is reimbursed at $2.14; reduced breakfast at $2.14 and each breakfast students pay full price for is reimbursed at 66 cents.

Revenue also comes in from sales of a-la-carte items to staff and students including $250,000 annually from the sale of alecarte, such as pizza; $67,000 for reimbursement for full price meals; $9,000 for catering teacher and other staff meetings and different events.

No local funding is used to feed the district.

“That is our number one goal, that we do not ask for money in the school budget,” said Truman.

The district charges $1.10 for each full price breakfast and $2.40 for each full price high school lunch and $2.15 for each full price lunch at the elementary school level.

With the level of reimbursement higher than the cost of a full price lunch or breakfast – as high as $1.04 more – the revenue has increased significantly.

Fund Balance 

In Fiscal year 2016, for example, the self sustaining program’s fund balance at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2015 was $185,691. As of June 30, 2018, the end of Fiscal year 2018, the amount had risen to $388,667.

The amount includes inventory, which last year was $60,000, said Coffey.

The problem, said officials, is that the district will no longer be eligible for the four-year program unless the government approves a waiver to allow them to continue for one more year.

And with the continuing equipment failure – due to aging – the fund are being diverted to purchasing new equipment or repairing of equipment, such as the $20,000 used to fix the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School walk in freezer/refrigerator this year.

“It looks great now but it provides a nice buffer when we may need it,” Colpitts said.

Other equipment purchases in the past few years have included refrigerators, and dishwashers at some of the elementary schools.

Colpitts said the Fund Balance has increased because now all students are eligible for free lunch and breakfast.

“Now that were feeding everyone, what concerns me the most is when we hit 2020 we’re no longer eligible to provide that. Suddenly we’re going to have people who  never had to pay before and w’ere going to have to provide a meal,” said Colpitts.

It is possible the district will not be eligible for the grant next year because of a 13 percent drop in CEP.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net

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