Gateway food service asks parents to pay lunch bills

HUNTINGTON – Gateway’s food services director Wendy McCaul gave an update on the National School Lunch Program to the School Committee at Wednesday’s meeting.
McCaul said Gateway is using less processed food, now called “clean” food in the cafeteria, and trying to lower sodium and fat levels, and use more produce. The schools participate in a Farm to School program and have had fresh apples and carrots from local farms from August through May this year.
She said the district also participates in a new USDA/DOD partnership that enables the school to order produce weekly from Rhode Island. McCaul reported they received a bonus $800 from that program two weeks ago.
McCaul also said that Gateway will have to raise lunch prices this year to stay in compliance with new regulations.
She said Gateway has a loose charging policy for lunches that is becoming an issue for the food services staff. McCaul said managers are spending a good portion of their Friday afternoons sending bills to parents. She said state policy forbids carrying bad debt to the next year.
McCaul hung up signs at the beginning of May, saying “Pay up.”
“At the end of May, we really put the pressure on, and we recoup,” she said. Seniors can’t get their gowns until their bill is paid, although she said they are down to one senior. Currently the outstanding debt for grades 5-12 is $300, and for Littleville Elementary, $700.
Business manager Stephanie Fisk said that the district would have to cover that debt from the general fund if left unpaid.

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