The food service vendor for the Elizabethtown Area School District had a loss of more than $110,000 in revenue for the 2017-18 school year — its first year operating here — but food sales and revenue have increased so far this year, representatives of the vendor told the school board.
At their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, school board members sampled items to be rolled out in coming months, including pancakes and sushi. After that, they listened to a presentation by Josh Bain, assistant manager of food service for vendor SFE, and Courtney Kolp, assistant general manager.
In June 2017, the board approved a contract with SFE (Southwest Foodservice Excellence), based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Previously, the district operated its own food service.
The factors contributing to last year’s revenue loss included weather-related dismissals and closings ($28,174) and a fire in the high school/middle school kitchen ($10,726). Another $53,847 was lost on a la carte items, because of pricing and the fact that fries were no longer an a la carte item and had to be included in a meal price.
Also, because it was a new program, the district didn’t want to raise prices and negatively impact perception, Bain noted. So instead of tier pricing, all meals were the same price. Also, the district forfeited an additional $17,759 by not adding a 10-cent increase called for by a government pricing tool. (The increase was added for this year.) And there have been adjustments for local tastes. Noting that, initially, some meals had a Southwest flavor, “we learned that maybe our Pennsylvania Dutch clientele is not so much into the spice,” Bain said.
So far this year through mid-November, both breakfast and lunch sales continue an upward trend, and daily revenue has increased by $300, Bain said.
Kolp said that the grab-andgo breakfast carts added last spring to the middle school and this fall to the high school have been “wildly successful.” Selling coffee at the high school has greatly increased breakfast a la carte sales, she added. Hot chocolate will be offered starting the week of Dec. 3, she said.
Kolp said that SFE will continue taste-testing with students and will attend upcoming PTO meetings at the elementary schools, since parents usually decide whether students eat in the cafeteria. Plans also call for offering the popular fruit slushes at the elementary schools and soft-serve frozen yogurt at the high school/middle school in January. There will be an educational farmer’s market in the spring.
The presentation also included information on the online Nutrislice program, which offers nutritional information and online ordering, to be available first to faculty and staff.
In other business, the school board approved a contract with Market Street Sports to give White Family Dental naming rights for the football stadium. The contract will yield over $75,000 to the district over 10 years. The board also accepted a $5,000 donation from Jess Durham toward handrails in the stadium bleachers. The board also approved new drop-off and pickup times for two Mill Road Elementary bus runs. Business manager George Longridge outlined a schedule for the 2019-20 budget process: On Jan. 22, the board will vote to display a proposed preliminary budget; on Feb. 12, a preliminary budget will be adopted. On April 9, the administration will present a proposed final budget, and on May 28, the final budget will be voted on. The Act 1 index, which limits tax increases, will be 2.9 percent.
The approved personnel report included the hiring of athletic director William Templin. Also, Christel Pond is resigning as East High Elementary assistant principal effective Jan. 1. District spokesman Troy Portser said later that she was taking a position with a district in the Scranton area.