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SCS’ nutrition system faces financial losses

Stanly County Schools is facing financial losses in its school nutrition programs.

At a special meeting of the Board of Education, Nutritional Director Mandy Melton presented board members with some early numbers after four weeks of operation.

According to Melton, the school has served more breakfast meals this year than in 2019, a little over 10,000 more, but the lunches are down over the same period by 30,999.

In dollars, the decrease in lunches has led to a loss of revenue just shy of $88,000 within the first month, Melton said.

Along with fewer meals, the program has been able to fill five open positions which Melton said could mitigate some of the losses.

Board member Anthony Graves asked about the funding for the program, which Melton said came in federal reimbursements per meal. Currently, the school receives $2.13 for every breakfast served and $4.15 for lunch.

The lunch program, she explained, is a self-sustaining enterprise fund separate from the school system, operating almost like a separate business.

Melton also did three analyses pertaining to the costs to the nutrition system if a remote day was approved by the board, which it was later in the meeting (for a related story, click here: https://www.thesnaponline.com/2020/09/16/stanly-school-board-chooses-virtual-learning-day-at-all-levels/).

In that scenario, which will be on Fridays for all levels, the nutrition program will need 70 additional staff members to keep records and hand out meals to assist the driver. During the summer when meals were distributed, teacher assistants and teachers helped distribute meals.

One stat Melton shared said only 8 percent of the fully remote-learning students are using the drive-through sites around the county to pick up daily meals. She added if the 8 percent is carried over with one day off for all students, the loss combined with the remote-learning day for all levels would be $63,603 per month in addition to the approximate losses already suffered through the first four weeks.

“We are already showing losses,” Melton said, adding she was concerned about the number of students who rely on school meals.

Melton said she believes one reason for the low numbers of students receiving drive-through meals is transportation issues getting to one of the four sites.

The meals at the drive-throughs, Melton added, were a cold breakfast meal and a hot lunch.

Numbers were higher during the period starting in March running through the summer because they had help from a local church organization, she said.

Board member Glenda Gibson asked if using teacher assistants or custodians would help to serve every child possible. Melton said the concerns were more about staffing buses than the loss in revenue.

Board member Jeff Chance asked about two bus drivers delivering on the same bus, to which Maintenance Director Todd Bowers replied many of the middle and high schools use the same bus.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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