NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education has voted to follow guidelines set forth by the state on what food can be sold in schools.
The board adopted the Connecticut Healthy Food Certification for the 2014-15 school year at its June 12 meeting.
The certification limits what food the school can sell to students during the school day. In addition to the state certification, the board is mandated to follow the regulations laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Food Service Director Kate Murphy explained the requirements for what the school can and cannot sell are updated yearly.
“We had a change to lunch two years ago, and that required every child had to take a fruit or vegetable. This past year the grain requirements have changed and 90 percent of grains served have to be whole grains. Next year the snack requirements will change. So everything that is sold to a child, no matter where it is, will have to follow the USDA regulations,” Murphy said.
Adopting the state’s certification standards means the district will receive a 10 cent rebate for each lunch sold. Murphy estimated the district will receive approximately $40,000.
In addition to the changes in nutritional requirements, school lunch prices will be increasing 5 cents next school year.
Murphy explained under the USDA’s Healthy Food Service Law schools are required to ensure the federal reimbursement for free and reduced lunches does not offset the price of regular lunches.
Elementary school lunch prices will go up to $2.50. The intermediate and middle school lunch prices will increase to $2.65. Naugatuck High School has three different lunch prices depending on the meal students get. The prices at the high school will rise to $2.75, $3 and $3.25.
Board member Glenn Connan questioned what the reimbursement money will go towards.
“One thing I don’t understand is we’re going to raise prices 5 cents, but we’re going to reimburse the school 10 cents. What do the students get for the $40,000?” Connan said.
Murphy said the money has to be used for the cafeteria program and could not be given out as a rebate to the students. The money will be used for equipment in the cafeterias.
Each of the schools will be receiving a smoothie machine, Murphy said. According to the USDA regulations any student who eats breakfast at school has to receive a serving of milk and fruit.
“By putting it in a smoothie it’s already in there and [the students] will take a smoothie over an apple,” Murphy said.
The money will also help offset the decrease in revenue the district is likely to see since it won’t be able to sell certain snack foods under the USDA guidelines.
In the past the board chose not to comply with the state’s certification program because it would affect what could be sold during events, such as a school play or a football game.
However, the board is now able to exempt food sold at events from the guidelines.
“So you will be able to sell soda, candy, whatever you sell at the event. It can’t be at basketball practice, it would have to be at the actual basketball game,” Murphy said.
Murphy suggested schools offer a healthier option, such as dried fruit, as well at events.
Board Chairman David Heller raised concerns about the ability of students to continue to sell foods, such as pies and snacks, as a fundraiser.
Murphy said the changes would not have an effect on fundraisers. She pointed out that students are currently not allowed to sell food during school days.
Murphy said the 10 cent rebate initiative will be stopped in the near future. However, the district will still be able to receive the incentive next school year.
“I feel we should take that $40,000 while we can,” Murphy said.