Rhinebeck school district eyes food bill, sales

By William J. Kemble

RHINEBECK – The school district is monitoring its food service sales closely to determine whether an economic downturn has affected the students’ ability to buy school meals, trustees were told Tuesday.

School officials said a revenue increase in the food service department is expected to be adversely affected by steep price increases.

“The cost of food is just skyrocketing,” district business manager Thomas Burnell told the Board of Education.

Burnell said the prices charged to students have not changed, but a narrow selection has led to complaints.

“Unfortunately, one of the things that is happening is the same things are ending up on the menu time after time,” he said.

“The kids are getting tired of it but that is what the federal government is giving us,” he said. “It’s hard to exchange chicken nuggets with anything other than chicken nuggets. That’s been the major complaint this year.”

Officials said changes in the menu at the high school level are being considered for the remainder of the school year.

Following the meeting, Burnell said the district took over the service during the 2005-06 school year because of poor service from an outside contractor.

“We went to doing it for ourselves to address quality issues with the nutritional value of what was being served,” he said.

“Before we started our own program, we were $5,000 to the good,” Burnell said. “The first year we lost $40,000, and last year we lost $30,000. This year we’re estimating it will be a loss of $5,000 to $10,000.”