Fairbanks school district cancels summer school lunch program

Posted: Sunday, May 05, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District said it will discontinue its summer lunch program this year since so few children use it.

''I am reluctant to drop it, but I had to realistically look at numbers,'' said Lynn Tompkins, food services supervisor for the school district. ''I said I would attempt to do this program only if I could make it break even.''

The program, which provides free lunches to children, was in its second year last summer. The district ran the program from Barnette Elementary School.

Attendance was high at the beginning of the summer, Tompkins said. At one point during the summer, the program was serving lunch to 250 people each day.

''Then they kind of diminished toward the end of the summer,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''I think we were getting down to about 80 people a day toward the end, or less.''

The drop in attendance likely resulted from the end of summer school and enrichment classes, Tompkins said.

''That was just the local students that were still coming,'' he said. ''That was true numbers, I think, without summer school going on. It was barely breaking even.''

The lower number is not enough to make the program self-supporting, he said, and the district can't afford to subsidize it. Summer school will be in session this year, but the district won't have its summer enrichment program.

The summer food service program is federally funded and administered by the state. Programs are reimbursed for the meals they serve to children. The state reimbursement rate for this summer is about $4 per lunch.

Operating the summer feeding program takes seven or eight people to run the central kitchen and deliver and serve the food, Tompkins said.

The district will re-evaluate whether to sponsor a program each year, Tompkins said.

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