The Elkin City Schools Board of Education voted last Monday evening to increase school lunches by 10 cents when classes resume Aug. 24.
Lunches for students at Elkin Elementary School will rise from $2.25 to $2.35 while lunches for students at Elkin Middle and Elkin High schools will rise from $2.50 to $2.60. Adult lunches at all schools will increase from $3.25 to $3.50.
The vote to increase the prices was 4-0 as Vice Chairwoman Haley Sullivan was not at the meeting. This is the first meal price increase for the Elkin City Schools since the 2013-14 school year.
The $1.35 cost for breakfast at all schools will remain the same during the 2015-16 school year.
Board members also approved increasing á la carte items students and staff purchase over and above their lunch such as chips and other snacks, extra milk, bottled water and fruit juices by 10 cents. There has not been a price increase on á la carte items in more than five years.
Dr. Richard Brinegar, chairman of the school board, said the increases were due to the rising cost in food prices. “We’re keeping breakfast prices the same,” he said, “so we tried to help all we could.”
Brinegar said the board hopes to increase the number of students eating school lunches. “Some of the kids like them,” he said, “and some don’t. What we’re trying to do, within the confines of our financial restraints, is to make the lunches more appealing as well as keep their nutritional value.”
According to a PowerPoint presentation shared at the meeting, the Surry County, Mount Airy City and Yadkin County school systems also have recommended a 10-cent increase in their lunch prices. Current prices in the school systems are as follows: Surry County, $2.20 for grades K-5 and $2.40 for grades 6-12; Mount Airy City, $2.50 for grades K-5 and $2.65 for grades 6-12; and Yadkin, $2.35 for grades K-6 and $2.55 for grades 7-12.
Debbie McCoin, child nutrition director for the school system, said she had been asked by Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe and the Board of Education for the percentage of students at all three schools that ate school lunches for the past two years. Though she had not finished calculating the totals when contacted Thursday, McCoin said she knows the percentages were down last year.
“I don’t know if that had to do with the type of lunches, the variety we were offering or what their reasoning was,” she said. “That’s why we want to bring participation up this year and get the students back eating with us.”
McCoin said she also was working on the school menus — which rotate every two weeks — trying to select foods that students like the most. At the elementary school, she said, “you give the kids pizza, and they’re in Heaven.”
Pizza is also a favorite of middle and high school students, who eat in the same cafeteria, she said.
Other favorites of all the grade levels, McCoin said, are sausage biscuits served with macaroni and cheese, chicken pie and country style steak.
Strombolis will be returning to the menu rotation for middle and high school students, beginning in October. “We have not had strombolis in several years,” she said, “which at one time were a big hit. The kids loved them.
“Of course, they’re made from homemade yeast bread … Anybody’s going to love that.”
McCoin said she also is planning to have “Taco Tuesdays” every other week. On those days, she said students will be able to rotate wearing sombreros. “That was an idea that Dr. Bledsoe had,” she said. “I think it will go over very well at the elementary school.”
A salad bar also will be added on a two-day-a week basis in an attempt to get more high school students to eat school lunches. “We’re also going to do a potato bar,” McCoin said.
The Elkin City Schools is part of the Foothills Purchasing Cooperative with the Alexander County, Mount Airy City, Surry County, Stokes County, Davie County and Yadkin County school systems. By bidding as a group, each school system is able to purchase food at a lower cost.
According to the PowerPoint presentation, U.S. Foodservice was awarded the bid this year to continue as the mainline distributor for the cooperative. An extension clause in the contract allows for up to four, one-year extensions to the original 2015-16 bid.
The Elkin City Schools also works with the Mount Airy City and Surry County school systems to get better food prices. Known as the Surry County Systems Cooperative, the group bids on milk, ice cream, bread and chemicals.
The milk bid has been awarded to Pet Dairy, the only company to submit a bid, according to the presentation. An extension clause in the contract allows the Surry cooperative up to four extensions of one year each to the original 2015-16 bid.
Alco is the recommended vendor for cleaning and dish machine supplies for the 2015-2016 school year.
The Surry County Systems Cooperative is still working on a bread and ice cream bid.
Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4058.