WYOMING — School meals will now be prepared by a neighboring district as Wyoming Central School works to control costs.
The Board of Education on Thursday approved a proposal by Genesee Valley BOCES Regional Food Service program allowing Alexander Central School to take over food preparation.
Starting in September, breakfast and lunch will be prepared in Alexander, bagged and driven to Wyoming’s cafeteria. The arrangement is expected to save $20,000 to $30,000 annually.
“Our students would still be able to get breakfast and lunch every day,” said Superintendent Sandra Duckworth. “All meals would be prepared at Alexander and transported to Wyoming by BOCES on a daily basis.”
Both Alexander and Wyoming already participate in the BOCES cafeteria program.
Wyoming joined about three years ago, but had experienced increasing costs due to declining enrollment and the resulting decreases in student use, along with fixed labor and benefit costs.
The district worked closely with BOCES over the past two years — including reducing staff and hours, and becoming more-efficient — but was still losing money on its cafeteria operations.
Losses amounted to $10,000 to $30,000 annually, Duckworth said. They were made up directly from the district’s general fund, which would have otherwise gone to the instructional program.
Alexander has the capacity to support Wyoming’s students and won’t be affected by the extra meals, she said.
“Alexander would provide a bagged breakfast that would include items like cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit, breakfast bars, juice or milk,” Duckworth said. “Lunch could consist of items like sandwiches, wraps, yogurt parfaits, cold pizza, mini salads, veggies, fruits, juice and milk.”
The money paid by Wyoming’s students will go directly to Alexander to help offset costs. School meal prices will remain the same.
Wyoming’s only employee commitment under the new arrangement will be a cashier working 90 minutes during the breakfast period. A BOCES regional food service representative will act as cashier during lunch.
“The only Wyoming district employee we have had in the cafeteria in the past five years is our lunch room monitor,” Duckworth said. “This person will continue to monitor lunches. All other employees working in the kitchen have been BOCES Regional Food Service employees.”
Wyoming’s Board of Education is committed to offering a breakfast and lunch to students if at all possible, she said. The changes allow the district to continue without losing money or taking dollars away from students’ education.
The district has faced an intense financial challenge over the past year. It’s been trying to cope simultaneously with a decreasing enrollment and tax base; increasing costs and state-mandated expenses; and state tax cap limitations.
“The cooperation of Alexander Central School and the BOCES Regional Food Service Program is much appreciated by Wyoming,” Duckworth said. “As Wyoming deals with very difficult financial challenges, it is nice to know that our neighboring schools are willing to help us make it happen.”