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Evaluation of Food Service Program. Lois Chait, MBA, RD, CDN, SNS Nutrition Consultant. Purpose of this report. Assess operation of the District’s Child Nutrition Program regarding overall operation

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evaluation of food service program

Evaluation of Food Service Program

Lois Chait, MBA, RD, CDN, SNS

Nutrition Consultant

purpose of this report
Purpose of this report
  • Assess operation of the District’s Child Nutrition Program regarding overall operation
  • Suggestions to rework some of the issues to improve total operation of program and decrease costs.
  • Bidding
  • Labor
  • Enrollment and Participation
  • Breakfast Program
  • Snacks
  • Meal Charges and Policy

Visited on June 2

  • Talked to Food Service Manager, Clerical Staff
  • They gave me:

Revenue Reports

Expense Reports

Reimbursement Reports



school lunch programs a juggling act between healthy nutrition and finances
School Lunch Programs – A Juggling Act between Healthy Nutrition and Finances
  • Pressure to ensure that there is a positive bottom line.
  • Child nutrition is a revenue source.
operating costs are increasing
Operating costs are increasing.
  • Food Costs
  • Fuel/Delivery Costs
  • Service/maintenance
  • Labor Costs
    • Employee Benefits –
    • This year costs $30, 072.96.
    • State Reimbursement has not seen

an increase in 20 years and in fact this year was decreased by 8%.

    • Vending and a la carte sales need to be reevaluated, prices need to be increased.

School Lunch Program need to be treated as a business and as such there will be difficult decisions to make if the goal is to increase student participation and reduce expenses


What Does it Cost to Prepare a School Meal?

Cost TypeCost

Food Costs $1.15

Non-Food Costs $0.14

Labor Costs $1.26

Indirect Costs $0.11


(national school lunch cost average: $2.60 to $3.10)

Pocantico approximately $4.12. (Profit and Loss statement

Source: SNA Preliminary

  • $16,000 was spent last year on items that are bought in a local supermarket. There is a loss of control when one individual is purchasing items without regards to the bidding process.
  • Berkshire Foods had invoices over $10,000 which is above limit set by municipal law.
  • BOCES has bid for some items but not all items. Can discuss with them adding those items that are being used.
bidding process


MUNICIPAL LAW and Pocantico School District Regulations

1,000.00-4,000.00 Discretion of Purchasing Agent

$4,001.00—6,000.00Quotations from at least

3 separate vendors (Quotes need to be awarded to lowest and responsible bidder

$6,000.00 - $9,999.00 – Formal written quotations from at least 3 separate vendors

bidding process1

Bidding Process

With quotations over $8,001.00-$19,999.00 Formal written quotes should be received from at least three (3) separate vendors (if available) It is strongly suggested that you bid out those items like snacks that are apt to be bid by the current vendors and other vendors.

Certain foods are exempt from bidding, local produce, food products grown, produced or harvested and./or processed in NYS. You can separately purchase eggs, livestock, fish, dairy products, species of fresh fruit and vegetables directly from producers or growers. But these items must be produced in New York, careful planning must be done so that you know it is from New York.



  • Labor
  • The district operates with
  • Full time cook-manager working at least 7 hours per day plus overtime.
  • 2 other full time employees working 7 hours per day working plus overtime.
  • 4th Employee that is part-time but working overtime.
  • I was unable to collect the amount of overtime that is actually being used. This still needs to be reviewed by Pocantico.
  • It is imperative that your total goal be generating a positive fund balance and maintaining it.


The Direct Labor cost includes social security and health insurance is 66% of Pocantico’s costs.

Goal should be approximately 55%, you can see that you are either not serving enough meals to support the labor hours or are overstaffed.

Pocantico’s goal should be to stabilize expense and slowly lessen the subsidy.

meals per labor hours
Meals per Labor Hours
  • One method of evaluating the amount of labor that a program needs is to calculate “Meals Per Labor Hours” (MPLH). This determines how many hours of labor Pocantico needs and how many meals do these labor hours produce.
  • 15 MPLH in a program that uses a combination of convenience (frozen entrees) foods and on-site scratch production. This applies to Pocantico.
meals per labor hours1
Meals Per Labor Hours
  • A review of the Meals Per Labor Hours with snack foods included is 12.5 . This is far below the MPLH goal of 18. The a la carte items sold are small which in your case would bring up the MPLH.
  • The size of your district is obviously at a disadvantage but less labor hours would reduce the sizable amount of money that this program is losing each year.
by the district improving purchasing techniques it will
By the district improving purchasing techniques it will:
    • Save staff time
    • Reduce paperwork
  • Increased competition by vendors would give:
    • Better Pricing
    • Better Product Selection
  • Improved product quality
  • Reduces labor of manager who shops in store


Breakfast expenses are very high in comparison to revenue.

Very low participation at breakfast and revenue is small.

Total revenue for the year until June 2nd is $2,439.19.

Food service manager uses approximately 2 hours to serve and prepare breakfast as the students come into the cafeteria until 10:00 A.M.

Total for breakfast with reimbursement and revenue received is $4243.19 for the entire year.

2 hours per day for food service manager is $17,000.

point of sale

Point of Sale

Microcheck has not given adequate support to the program.

Pre-Payment plans with a credit card system would encourage school lunches to be purchased.

Microcheck has not helped lunch manager to separate the pre-paid students from the cash students.

student and staff meal charges
Student and Staff meal charges
  • Student meal charges have typically been absorbed by the cafeteria fund. Just recently this has changed. All leftover charges must go into general fund according to State Education Department.
  • As of June 2nd charges were $883.00. Staff are charging and not paying after 1 charge. State Education Department has written a policy that no staff should be charging
  • Snacks are being charged.
  • Use more BOCES bids. Request additional items that are being used on your bids
  • Bid on snacks, beverages, meat produce, dairy and commodity delivery.
  • Manager should have access to all bids so she can do the appropriate ordering.
  • Do not go “shopping” at the supermarket. No control and auditing problems.
  • Eliminate breakfast – one needs to determine who needs it and provide those children with cereal, milk and commodity fruit or juice without a breakfast program.
  • Increase price of lunch to $2.75. That would increase revenue by $15,187.50. $2.50 would increase it by $13,500.00.
  • Eliminating breakfast would decrease costs from labor reductions.
  • Only two employees are needed – one being the lunch manager. Another employee should be available as a substitute.
  • Establish Charge Policy.
    • Do not allow staff to charge.
    • Determine what is the maximum meals to be charged and what would be the substitute meal.
  • Tough decisions to be made
  • Examine costs (labor, food, other) and make

changes in areas that you do not feel compromise the quality of service or participation

  • Significant meal price increases will be needed.
  • Charge policy that is consistent
  • Bidding changes
  • Instruction of staff in meal planning, sanitation and improved school lunch knowledge