Responding to complaints from students and parents alike, officials at Audubon Charter School are exploring using a new service for school lunches next year that they say provides markedly better food.
Audubon’s school lunches have traditionally been prepared by the Orleans Parish School Board, but the schoolchildren do not like the meals they serve, said operations manager Alisa Dupre at the April monthly meeting of Audubon’s governing board.
“The kids are not eating the lunch,” Dupre said. “Most of the time it ends up in the trash can. … We have a concern about the kids just not eating the food.”
Board member Shawn Barney interjected the presentation to ask if the school can have a policy where kids who don’t eat lunch can’t go to recess. “That’s how it was when I was in school,” Barney said.
“That’s not a good option,” Dupre said as the board laughed. “We need to find some meals the children will eat.”
KIPP Schools have offered to serve as the School Food Authority for any charter school that is interested, and one of their vendors is called Revolution Foods, Dupre said. Audubon administrators convened a committee of parents and staff members to try the food, and found it to be surprisingly good when they visited a school using Revolution.
“They weren’t throwing the food away,” Dupre said. “They were eating the food.”
The switch would save Audubon some money, though it could result in increases for some parents. KIPP’s administrative fee based on the current year’s lunches would be roughly $14,000. The OPSB charges a flat fee based on the school population, and it was $24,510 this year.
The price of the school lunches will remain the same for students who qualify for free-and-reduced lunches, about 45 percent of the school’s population. But for those who pay full price, the price of breakfast will rise from $1 per day to $2 per day for breakfast, and from $2 to $3 per day for lunch.
At a question from board member Jacqueline Smith, Dupre said it is accurate that some parents will be paying an additional $10 per week for meals at school under the switch. But, Dupre said, most student who pay full price do not buy school breakfast — so Smith said the increase will be more like $20 per month for most students, an increase she would want to hear parents’ reaction to.
The board will likely decide on the issue at next month’s meeting, Tilton says.
“I think that what you’ve done is create interest in this program,” said board member Eva Alito.
The board also discussed changes to next year’s budget through the state-allocated per-pupil funding, and will hold its annual public hearing on the budget next month, at 10 a.m. May 17. See below for live coverage.