Calcasieu school lunch portions smaller due to budget cuts

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Calcasieu Parish Schools has reduced the amount of food they serve students this school year due to budget cuts in the school system.

This year the school district is serving the minimum portion which includes 2 ounces of the main course, 3/4 cup of the fruit or vegetable, and the different sides.

School officials said this is all part of a $4.1 million deficit in the school lunch program in Calcasieu Parish.

"We were directed by the board to get that back in line to where the board wouldn't have to subsidize out of the general fund," said Gary Anderson, Asst. Superintendent for Calcasieu Parish Schools.

According to the state officials the parish was serving double what the USDA requires, thus school officials chose to cut back on the amount of food served on the students' trays.

The change in portion sizes has parents concerned throughout Calcasieu Parish.

Pamela Derouen of Hayes said her child has ADHD, and she fears his school performance could suffer if he does not get enough to eat during the school day.

"That makes me upset because I know my son can eat more than three pieces," said Derouen. "For him to be hungry that would make his disorder worse."

But school officials said this is a necessary tool for saving money in the school district.

"If we went to 4 chicken tenders instead of 3 just on the high school level, that would cost us over $37,000 in a year just to add one chicken finger," said Anderson.

But officials stress that this new practice is not etched in stone.

"We're in a transition period right now and we're trying to get our program in line where we don't have the problems we've had in the past," said Anderson. "We might have to add some bigger portions, but then we'll need to figure out where we'll get that money."

Officials plan to examine the serving situation at the next board meeting on September 14th.

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