JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District is increasing school lunch prices by 25 cents this fall and making other changes in an attempt to reduce the district's cost of its food- service program by $75,000.
Superintendent Robert DeLilli and School Business Manager Alice Sise explained changes to the Board of Education last week.
"In order to offset these costs, our recommendation is to bump up those prices a little bit," DeLilli said.
Sise said the district's contribution to the food-service program will be cut. The district had to use $150,000 out of the general fund this school year, but hopes to cut that in half to $75,000 for the 2012-13 school year.
She said the school lunch for kindergarten through sixth grade now costs $2, but that will increase to $2.25 starting this fall. The seventh- through 12th- grade lunches will increase from $2.25 to $2.50.
DeLilli said the district also needs to increase lunch prices because newer nutrition guidelines are coming from the state. This "increase in good food," he said, includes whole wheat breads used and changes in portion sizes.
Sise said lunch personnel changes also are planned.
She said a head cook resigned, and the district will hire a cook to fill that position.
The district also will try to reach more families who are eligible for free or reduced lunches through a government program.
Glebe Street Elementary School Principal Daniel Carroll said his school is "over the 40 percent threshold" of families receiving free or reduced lunches. Still, he said, some families are reluctant to seek the benefit.
"We find there's stigma issues to return the [application] form," Carroll said. "We heard from some parents."
Board President Paul VanDenburgh said the thought on the elementary school level is to have teachers keep a stack of applications on their desks. He said the teacher could ask the students if their families filled them out and stress there is no stigma.
Carroll suggested taking the application out of the "thick packet" that goes to families at the start of the school year.
DeLilli said the district will try to send phone messages to district residences for the next school year.
"I think that will make a big difference," he said.
In addition, DeLilli said the district is looking at adjusting lunch times. District officials said there are concerns about students not having enough time to eat lunch.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.