Healthy lunches at Aspen schools cost more than expected |

Healthy lunches at Aspen schools cost more than expected

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Creating a healthy, local and organic school lunch program at the Aspen elementary and middle schools has so far cost about $27,000 more than the district originally anticipated.

“The lunch revenues are not tracking where we wanted them to be,” said Kate Fuentes, the district’s chief financial officer, at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Each year, the district spends about $23,000 to buy lunch for kids who can’t afford it. This year, it had expected to spend another $30,000 to get the new healthy lunch program off the ground. But even with those infusions from the district, the lunch program still has a $27,000 shortfall between revenue and expenses.

It isn’t yet clear if the shortfall arose from unreasonable expectations, unexpectedly high costs, declining participation or another reason, officials said.

But Assistant Superintendent John Maloy speculated that changing the program may have led to declining participation.

“Even though it’s more nutritional, I don’t think there’s the purchasing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s caught on.”

Maloy also thought the price might matter.

Board President Charla Belinksi agreed, noting that the economy might be encouraging more families to pack their own lunches.

But Belinski, who helped institute the new lunch program, made a plea to keep it.

“It’s worth taking a look what’s happening, but I really hope we can hang in there,” she said.

School board members asked district staff to work on pinpointing the reason for the shortfall and report back.

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