School nutrition directors hope for state funding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RALEIGH (AP) ó As schools revamp their food menus to include fresher, more healthful options, they also face increasing costs and not enough revenue.
In North Carolina, most school nutrition programs are self-sufficient and get little or no money from their local school districtís budget. School cafeterias do receive some federal money, up to $2.49 a student.
The increases in food, gas and labor costs have nutrition program directors hoping legislators will consider directing some state money to them.
Lynn Hoggard, chief of the state Department of Public Instructionís Nutrition Services section, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that schools are hurt by the same trends affecting consumers.
ěWhatís happening is happening statewide,î Hoggard said. ěThere are very few districts in North Carolina that arenít losing money.î
In western North Carolina, more than 2,000 Asheville City Schoolsí students eat a school-provided lunch. And though new school lunch guidelines demand less fat, fewer calories and more fruits and vegetables as part of each meal, no funding addresses the change.
ěWe really want to feed students nutritiously, but itís become more difficult as economic forces come down on us,î said Beth Palien, director of child nutrition for Asheville City Schools.
Hoggard said the average consumer has seen the price of milk rise by 13.3 percent in the past year, but that price has doubled for child nutrition programs. Rising fuel costs have pushed the cost to deliver a case of produce from $2 to $4.50.
Christina Dodd, director of child nutrition for Henderson County Schools, said itís not the school systemís fault.
ěThe school system is trying to stretch its funds to cover educational programs, let alone child nutrition programs,î Dodd said. ěRealistically, one of the best things for us would be to get some state money.î
The Department of Public Instruction, along with the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina, has asked the General Assembly for $20 million next school year to comply with new state nutrition guidelines for elementary schools.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.c