Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fort Thomas Schools Opt Out of Federal School Lunch Program

Despite record enrollment at Fort Thomas Independent Schools, the school system city-wide has seen a decrease of 169 lunches served each day since instituting the federal school lunch guidelines. 
The Fort Thomas Independent School system has decided that it will no longer choose to follow the federal lunch program, which has made its requirements increasingly stringent on school systems across the country.

By opting out of the program, the Fort Thomas Independent Schools are declining $265,000 in federal funds. The estimated budget and revenues for the 2014-2015 school year is $1,340,000. The School Board weighed the decision to turn down the money against increasingly strict guidelines, which they believed would continue to see the number of lunches served to decrease over the upcoming year.

Further leading to that decision was the fact that Fort Thomas receives the lowest federally funded per student rate in Kentucky, the Board felt they had the least to lose and most to gain by opting out of the program and constructing one that they felt would fill cafeteria lines.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Gene Kirchner said,
"…we have seen a decline in student participation in our lunch program over the past two years. This is a trend that is happening in many school districts across the country due to increased federal regulation."

Kirchner went on to say that the decision will allow FTIS to increase the quality and quantity of the food choices they offer. The prices will remain the same for the 2014-2015 school year and the free/reduced prices will still be available for those families who qualify.

The Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act was instituted in 2012 and saw steeps declines in the number of lunches served in Fort Thomas Schools despite record enrollment numbers.

Year                Lunches Served 
2009-2010       256,142
2010-2011       266,482
2011-2012       269,621
2012-2013       259,233   *Federal Mandate of School Lunch starts in August
2013-2014       239,586

School Board member, Scott Johnson, spoke of the decision and how off-campus lunch options might have affected the decrease in cafeteria revenue. "One might point to popular alternatives like Twisty Grill at the Methodist Church for HHS students who wish to go off campus, -a small minority- the loss of participation has been system-wide, even for the elementary and middle schools which have a "captive audience," said Johnson.

"Feedback from our families would indicate that the regimented selection offered under the federal guidelines, along with the austere portion sizes, have forced many families to pack lunches in order to achieve both the desired selection and portion sizes that their students need.  The option of brown bag at all levels, not the open campus at HHS, has been the mechanism for the loss of participation in the lunch program system-wide."

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Here's what FTM reported on this subject over the previous years:
October 2009
November 2012
November 2012




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