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Pocantico Hills Serves Up Discussion On School Lunches

POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. – Hopefully the school district can figure out a solution to its lunch program problem by January, Pocantico Hills Superintendent Valencia Douglas said during Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

Pocantico Hills officials and parents are brainstorming lunch options after the district decided to scale back its program amid staff retirements and disinterested food service providers. Two unexpected staff retirements and two unsuccessful requests for proposals to management companies mean the district cannot continue serving the same lunch program, officials said.

The school district will serve a cold lunch of assorted sandwiches until Oct. 19. Some type of lunch will be provided after that date, although the district has not decided what it will be, Douglas said Tuesday.

The lunch program has had problems for several years, school officials said. The recent retirement of two-thirds of the cafeteria staff changed the district's timeline.

“We had planned to spend a year looking at this issue through our strategic plan,” Douglas said.

Officials hope to get more students to buy lunch. About 120 students buy school lunches each day, which makes it hard to balance the program and find management companies willing to submit bids, Assistant Superintendent Jay Scotto-Friedman said.

The district is considering several options, including smaller catering companies, and Douglas said she hoped to name a food service company in January. That deadline gives school officials time to request proposals and award a bid.

Officials will continue to monitor free and reduced-price school lunches so they are similar to what other students bring to eat, she said.

The Pocantico Hills Parent-Teacher Association has formed a lunch committee to help the district find ways to provide healthy lunches, President Carolyn Kaplan said. The PTA is hosting meetings on the lunch program at 7 p.m. in the school library on Sept. 10, Sept. 20, Sept. 24, Oct. 3 and Oct. 17.

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