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Salem High Sees Large Decline in Plate Lunches

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

The new federal nutrician guidelines have resulted in a large number of Salem High School students no longer eating the school plate lunch.  Superintendent Brad Detering says revenue from plate lunches dropped $40,000 or about a third from the prior year.  "You have kids that are not eating school lunch, now we hope they're bringing their lunch and its a nice, nutritious lunch.  We have had to increase the number of microwaves and things like that for students bringing their own lunch in the cafeteria in order to meet the demand.  The bad part is the nutritional guidelines just are very difficult to hit and some of the things just aren't very pleasant for students," Detering said.

Detering feels the elimination of french fries from the meals sent students to the Ala Carte line to get what they wanted.  "It was student choices before that possibly caused the obesity issue--the things that they were choosing.  So now students are choosing not to buy the lunch," Detering said.

Detering is commending the cafeteria staff for doing an excellent job in trying to work with the new guidelines.  With strict limits on ketchup and salt, he reports many students are now keeping a supply of both in their lockers.  There was some concern about the soda and snack vending machines being available to students during lunch.  However, Detering noted revenue from the machines was also down during the past school year.

The purchase of fewer lunches has increased the loss in the cafeteria last year to $46,000 if $136,000 in salary and benefits are added to the cost.

In an effort to cut the deficit, the board voted Tuesday night to raise the cost of student lunches by 25 cents to $3.00.  The cost of ala carte sandwiches will also increase a quarter to $2.00.

The Salem High School board also increased the cost of book fees from $80 to $85 a year to address rising costs.  The added fee for calculus students will jump from $25 to $50, but that will allow the students to be issued a school owned iPad that can also be used in other classes. 

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