The School District reached an agreement last week with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will allow the high school to move forward with its dining service program without burdensome regulation as a food processing plant.
Per the agreement, Londonderry High School will be considered a sub-distributor; thus, the School District may have all commodities delivered to the high school for distribution and preparation for the four remaining schools that are participating in the Federal School Lunch Program, according to a press release from the School District.
Dining Services Director Amanda Venezia met with state representatives for the USDA on Oct. 23 after learning the federal government had questioned the District’s application to receive commodities for the middle and elementary schools, expressing concern with their plan to store and process those commodities at the high school.
So far, the School District has missed three of its nine commodity shipments for the school year, a $105,000 allotment.
“We are pleased that we can continue to address the nutritional needs and choice options at the high school, as we have since the beginning of the school year, and provide appropriate service to the middle and elementary schools without any undue encumbrances,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg said of the agreement.
Since leaving the federal meals program, Venezia said participation in the high school’s meals program has increased dramatically and the quality of the meals they are serving is substantially improved.
Participation in the high school’s meals program was up to 33.2 percent in the month of September, compared with 29.3 percent for the same period in 2014.
After learning their application to receive commodities for the elementary schools and middle school still participating in federal lunch had not been accepted, the School Board sent a letter to local officials and elected leaders asking for support.
Local and State officials heeded the call and advocated for the School District, including U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, who held a press conference and released a statement calling for the feds to exempt Londonderry schools from burdensome regulations.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, whose office encouraged discussions between the USDA, state and school officials to find an accommodation that would allow the District to move forward with its own school lunch program, welcomed the resolution in a public statement on Oct. 30.
“I’m very pleased that this new agreement allows the Londonderry School District to continue providing meals for its students without a host of unnecessary new rules,” Shaheen said. “This school district is meeting the nutritional needs of its students, and I was glad to work with the district and the USDA to quickly find a resolution.”
“The adjustment agreed to by the U.S.D.A. would not have been possible without the incredible support and timely advocacy of our position by both Senator Shaheen and Senator Ayotte,” School Board chairman Steve Young said. “Their assistance in this matter cannot be overstated. We would also like to extend our thanks to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services for their assistance and cooperation.”