New Hampshire district may opt out of federal lunch program

Windham schools is looking at the possibility of leaving the National School Lunch Program following new USDA strict snack guidelines.

WINDHAM, N.H. — Faced with the latest federal restrictions on school-served meals and snacks, members of the Windham school board agreed this week to explore all options. During Tuesday night’s meeting, board member Dennis Senibaldi asked district nutrition director Rhonda Peckman and business administrator Adam Steel what would happen if Windham withdrew from the federal school lunch program.

Steel said that opting out of the federal program would mean the district would lose thousands of dollars in federal funding each year, and would also no longer be eligible for government food commodities.

The Windham school district receives an average of 30-cents per meal served as part of their participation in the state’s free and reduced lunch program. School officials said the lunch program takes in about $200,000 in government revenues each year.

“If we were to opt out, I’m assuming the district would still want to provide lunch for our needy students,” Steel said. “And that means we’d have to add at least $1.15 to our meal prices if participation rates stay the same.”

On the flip side, opting out of the federal lunch program would allow Windham cafeterias to offer food items not permitted within the current guidelines, which could ultimately lead to more participation, Steel noted.

“There are so many variables,” he said. “And I think that before we made any final decision, we’d have to have plenty of input from students and parents. We’d have to be very careful and very thoughtful going forward.”



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