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Tue., Sep. 1
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PHCS board Debates lunch price increase


PARISHVILLE - Students in the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District can expect to pay slightly more for their lunches next year, as the district is being required by the federal government to once again increase its lunch prices.

Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said the federal government is requiring school districts to gradually increase their prices up to the federal reimbursement rate of $2.79 per meal.

Food Services Manager Arlis “Artie” M. Frego, who was hired by the district through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services halfway through the current year to replace longtime and now retired Food Services Manager Frances Hazelton, said in his proposal that the price of both elementary and high school lunches will rise from $1.70 and $1.80 respectively to $1.90. Mr. Saiff explained the federal government also wants for reasons unbeknownst to him to start charging the same amount for both elementary and high school lunches.

Board of education member Heidi Simmons wondered if the increase in price would mean larger portions for elementary students, who would now be paying the same amount for lunch as their high school counterparts.

“No, because there is portion control. We have to give them less because we don’t want them to get fat,” board of education member B. Resa Remington said, sarcastically commenting on the matter.

Ms. Simmons also noted she didn’t think the quality of food being served merited increased prices.

“It’s awful food,” she said.

Board of education President Ward Remington, who works as a health inspector, and has been in cafeterias across the county, noted that with a kitchen the size of Parishville-Hopkinton’s their food service department is limited in what they can do.

“If you go to some schools like Canton or OFA (Ogdensburg Free Academy) and look at their kitchens, it’s like going into a restaurant,” he said.

Mr. Saiff agreed. “In fairness to those who have worked in the cafeteria they have done a good job with that they have to work with,” he said.

Mr. Saiff also pointed out that federal regulations limit what they can do with the food they’re preparing.

“I’m a firm believer that when you take the fat, salt and sugar out to the food, you take the flavor out of it,” he said.

Out of respect for Ms. Hazelton, Mr. Frego also refrained from making any changes to the menu for this year, Mr. Saiff said.

“He’s planning to introduce some new menu items next year,” he said.

The board took no action on the proposed increases, instead tabling them until next month, when Mr. Frego will be present at the meeting.

And while the government is requiring schools to increase their prices up to their reimbursement rate, Mr. Saiff said that given the mandates on what can and can’t be served, the prices may one day rise even high than that.

“I think the thing that’s going to drive prices up more than anything going forward is the fresh fruits and vegetables that we want to and are required to provide,” he said.

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