Conn. school district opts out of National School Lunch Program

The district is poised to lose approximately $165,000 in federal and state reimbursements this year.

GREENWICH, Conn. — Every day, hordes of Greenwich High Schoolstudents file into the school's cafeteria for morning and midday fuel. During the lunch blocks, there is a constant procession in and out of the Cardinal Cafe.

The deli, pizza and grill stations are especially popular.

At the moment, though, the revenue they help produce -- $1.4 million last year -- is not enough to get the public schools' food services operation into the black. The department has struggled with deficits in recent years, and it took a major hit this year when the Board of

Education made the uncommon decision to give up federal and state funding in order to keep the high school's current menu.

The budgetary pressure is not likely to ease soon. Nor is the scrutiny from other town officials, as budget reviews continue. But school administrators are hoping they can improve the department's fiscal outlook by making changes that will attract more customers and bring more cash to the tills.

"The high school program has always been very successful," said John Hopkins, the district's food services director. "The question is how do you make it more successful than it already is to close the gap?"

Opting out

To avoid new federal dietary regulations that would have affected much of the cafeteria offerings at Greenwich High, the Board of Education unanimously decided last June to withdraw the school from the National School Lunch Program. As a result, the district is projected to lose approximately $165,000 in federal and state reimbursements this year and about $154,000 next year for meals served at the high school.

The opt-out meant that the district also missed out on the chance to earn the state's Healthy Food Certification designation, which would have netted the district another $47,000 annually for reimbursed school meals. Together, the foregone

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