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Pocantico Hills Parents Serve Up Lunch Proposals

POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. – A “farm-to-school” lunch that provides quality, seasonal food at a reasonable cost would help save the district's lunch program because it would improve efficiency and appeal to more students, Pocantico Hills parents say.

School officials agreed. “Certainly it's about making sure we have food that kids want to eat,” Superintendent Valencia Douglas said as the PTA's Lunch Committee presented several recommendations to the Pocantico Hills Board of Education during its Tuesday night meeting.

The recommendations include preparing fresh, appealing entrees to students using ingredients from local farms. Recommendations also included improving the a la carte offerings, revamping the billing process, raising the cost of a meal to $3 and staying in the federal school lunch program.

School officials decided to scale back its lunch program in August after staff retirements and a lack of interest from food service companies. A parent group sponsored by the PTA has been examining lunch program options. School officials hope to have a solution by January.

The lunch committee recommends that the district explore an in-house program and a food service management company's program to find a balance between cost, efficiency and food quality. The committee recommends hiring a full-time cook-manager to oversee the program.

Vending machines and an improved a la carte program would offer healthier snacks and beverages. Parents said the a la carte offerings make up about half of the total food sales and are key to a financially successful program.

Parents want the district to revamp its payment system to reduce the amount of time students wait in line. The new system would also allow a parent to go online to purchase lunches in advance or put money into a student's account. This would help cut food waste and make things easier on parents, PTA officials said.

The Board of Education will review the recommendations and discuss them at future meetings, board President John Conrad said. School board member Emily Segal thanked parents for their research and recommendations.

“I hope that we can find a way to implement these ideas,” she said.

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