Meals will cost a little bit more next schoolyear at Lewis Central Community Schools.
In the meantime, contracts have been awarded for many of the school district’s summer projects.
The Lewis Central Board of Education approved a 5-cent, across-the-board increase in meal prices during its virtual meeting Monday.
“Every meal at every location will be 5 cents higher,” said Tracy Watsabaugh, director of nutrition services.
According to the new fee schedule, breakfast and lunch prices will be $1.90 and $2.80, respectively, for elementary students; $2 and $3.10 for middle school students; $2.10 and $3.30 to $3.55 for high school students; and $2.80 and $3.85 for adults.
Fewer meals were served during the 2019-20 schoolyear because of the extended closure prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Watsabaugh said. The number of breakfasts served fell from 74,883 in 2018-19 to 55,348 in 2019-20, and the number of lunches dropped from 313,645 in 2018-19 to 224,476 in 2019-20.
At the same time, the amount of unpaid meal fees jumped from $3,831.17 in 2018-19 to $6,883.71 for 2019-20, Watsabaugh said.
“Due to pandemic hardship, we are most likely going to be in the negative at the end of the year,” she said.
Watsabaugh said she is working with Andrea Raes, the district’s business manager and board secretary, to minimize the deficit.
Nutrition services has a separate budget and is not funded from the school district’s general fund, Superintendent Eric Knost noted.
Reinhart was chosen as Nutrition Services’ prime vendor for 2020-21 among three bidders, Watsabaugh said.
“Reinhart met all the requirements for the bid but also was the lowest,” she said.
Watsabaugh renewed contracts with Dean Foods for dairy and milk products, Omaha Paper Co. for food safety chemicals, Pizza Hut for fresh-baked pizza and Rotella’s Italian Bakery for bread.
During the past year, nutrition services accomplished the following:
• Purchased a new washer and dryer for Titan Hill Intermediate School
• Introduced Smart Snack-approved Pepsi products at Lewis Central Middle School (does not include any pop or any products containing caffeine)
• Implemented Farm to School fresh fruits and vegetables in all schools
• Introduced online free and reduced meal applications
• Increased breakfast participation district-wide
• Created new recipes and menus
• Decreased food waste by requiring students to take one fruit or vegetable, not all
• Added three sites for summer meal distribution, making a total of five
There have been several changes in USDA rules for school meals, Watsabaugh said. Schools are now allowed to serve flavored, low-fat milk for breakfast and lunch. Only half of the grains in breakfast and lunch menus have to be whole grain-rich. And the agency is giving schools more time to gradually reduce sodium levels.
In other business, the board approved bids for the following summer purchases and projects:
• The purchase of two 84-passenger buses and one 48-passenger lift bus from Bluebird at a total cost of $389,334, the lower of two bids. The larger buses will be primarily for activities and include undercarriage storage compartments so equipment does not take up passenger space.
• Installation of a new rooftop HVAC unit at Lewis Central Middle School by Carter’s Heating and Air Conditioning for $46,600, the lowest of three bids. An additional $7,500 will be added for electric, roof curb and connection to the network, bringing the total cost to $54,100.
• Renovation of the visitor side bleachers in the Lewis Central High School Gym by TownsEnd Co. for $51,515. TownsEnd installed the bleachers in 2001, and this is a continuation of last year’s bleacher project.
• Repairs to asphalt in driveways and parking lots by Century Asphalt for $27,660.40, the lowest of three bids.
• Replacement of hallway carpet with vinyl tile at the middle school by Kelly’s Carpet-Omaha for $18,195, the lower of two bids.
• Replacement of carpet in rooms 307, 310, 311 and 410 at the high school by Sherwin Williams Floor Covering for $16,421.35, the lower of two bids.
• Construction of a new wall in room No. 310 at the high school by Andersen Construction Co. for $15,972, the lower of two bids.