Planned lunch price increase is reduced | SteamboatToday.com

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Planned lunch price increase is reduced

Meals to be $3.50 at middle and high schools, up only 50 cents

Max Huppert, director of Nutritional Services for Steamboat Springs School District, was advocating the cost of lunch be increased to $4 at the high school but scaled it back to $3.50, only 50 cents more than last year.

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Visit http://www.steamboatschoolfood.com for more information about the district’s Nutritional Services program or to see August and September lunch menus.

— Lunch prices at Steamboat Springs High School will increase only 50 cents to $3.50 during the 2010-11 school year, instead of the $1 increase previously planned by Nutritional Services Director Max Huppert.

Huppert said Tuesday that he scaled back the increase after recalculating what it would cost to make the lunch program support itself, based on his projection of the number of students who would eat lunch this year at the district's schools.

The price is the same as the increase at Steamboat Springs Middle School. Lunch prices at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools remain unchanged from last year at $3.

In addition to reducing the increase at the high school, Hup­pert said the district wouldn't serve locally produced beef and bison this year, which it began offering last year. He said trying to make the lunch program self-supporting would prevent him from achieving his goal of preparing nearly all meals from scratch in an effort to provide healthy meals.

"We'll keep trying to make as much from scratch as possible," he said. "The more kids eat, the more money we'll get, the more will go toward food."

Huppert added that he had three fewer staff members for next school year compared with last year, another measure to help him stay within his budget.

During a presentation last week, Huppert told Steamboat Springs School Board members that he was raising lunch prices to pay for the food to make all-scratch meals and to make the program self-supporting.

Only School Board member Laura Anderson opposed the price increase during the meeting.

Steamboat Finance Director Dale Mellor said $23,000 was needed from the district's general fund to subsidize the lunch program for the 2009-10 school year. But Mellor said the books haven't been closed on last year and that he expects that number to decrease.

Mellor said during the 2008-09 school year, which was Hup­pert's first, the lunch program stayed within budget. That's in contrast to the general fund's support of the program in previous years. He said about $116,000 subsidized the lunch program in 2007-08 and that it was about $120,000 from being self-supporting in 2006-07.

"Max has really come a long way toward balancing that budget," Mellor said.

Huppert said after the school year starts and he has a better idea about how many students are eating lunch, he could determine how much he's able to make from scratch and whether the locally produced products could return to the menu.

But don't expect a return to processed foods in Steamboat.

Huppert posted August and September lunch menus from the schools on the district's Nutritional Services website, http://www.steamboatschoolfood.com.

During the first week at the high school, for example, students can choose from Szechuan-style spare ribs with rice and a side of Asian vegetables one day and Mediterranean chicken with rice pilaf and a Tunisian carrot salad another. Those choices are in addition to daily fare, including hamburgers, pizza, pasta, hot and cold sandwiches and hot dogs.

Similar meals will be offered at the middle and elementary schools.