Barranca Elementary to offer reduced-cost lunches

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Schools: The program is similar to that of Mountain

By Jennifer Garcia

In October, Mountain Elementary got the green light to proceed with a free and reduced-cost lunch program. On Tuesday, Barranca Elementary also got the nod to move forward with a program of its own.

Barranca Principal Pam Miller gave a presentation to the Los Alamos Board of Education, outlining the need for such a program at her school. According to the presentation, “50 Barranca students were in need of warm coats, boots and gloves to get them through the winter this year.

Several parents have contacted the Parent Teacher Organization saying they need more help to feed their children. The Barranca PTO cannot afford to purchase any more lunches. Barranca currently has 35 students receiving scholarship lunches.

Under the National School Lunch Program, the federal government would reimburse LAPS for meals served. All paid lunches would see a return of $0.26, while free lunches would yield a $2.77 return and reduced-price lunches would yield a $2.37 return. 

“The PTO pays for one lunch per week for each of these students. Many bring only an apple or crackers on the other days. Teachers in pre-school and grades kindergarten-first grade have reported to the principal that they have 30 percent of their students coming to school without breakfast or a healthy snack.”

Though the Mountain and Barranca programs would both provide children in need with lunches, Miller is hoping to use available technology for her program. Instead of giving free and reduced-cost lunch applications to children to take home, fill out and return, parents would be able to log onto a website and fill out applications online. The program would also sync with PowerSchool.

“Parents can input data instead of filling out paperwork for the principal,” Miller said. “The PTO is willing to help get this going.”

In addition to submitting online applications, the program would allow parents to make deposits, view history and set account restrictions.

According to Miller’s presentation, the price for program set-up is a one-time offer for PowerSchool users. It includes unlimited users and online applications for free and reduced-cost lunches. The Barranca PTO is willing to help out financially, if needed.

Gerry Washburn, principal at Mountain said the program at his school has been successful so far.
The number of meals served increased to 2,612. Of those meals, 2,012 are paid for, while 38 students receive free lunch and eight receive reduced prices.

“The program is doing very well. It’s all about participation,” he said.

Before the board vote, LAPS Board President Melanie McKinley reminded Miller that the district would not contribute any money to the program, saying there was no money allocated for those programs.

Miller assured McKinley that the PTO would help get the program off the ground.

After a vote, the motion to implement the program passed 4-0. Miller’s presentation indicated the program would be started as soon as possible.