Nutrition program makes money

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008


The director of the Children’s Nutrition Program for Selma City Schools wants to tell the rest of the story.

Smyly Kirkpatrick appeared before the Selma City School Board on Thursday

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to talk about expenditures in her department.

The school board decided to look over the information and take it up at a later meeting.

School board vice president John Williams wants to discuss the issue further and come up with a plan. Others agreed, including President Barbara Hiouas.

Last week, Perry Fulton, state administrator for the program gave the school board a report saying city school cafeterias are inefficient.

“I have to be very honest with you,” Fulton told the board at the time. “if you all keep going at the rate that you’re going, the Child Nutrition Program will not only deplete itself of its funds, it will get into your general fund, and it will bankrupt both programs.”

At the same time, Fulton said the school system needed to make adjustments for the declining enrollment.

Kirkpatrick pointed out the program has a budget of more than $3 million with a profit of $9,000 the last school year.

“What he did not say was how all the money was spent,” Kirkpatrict told the board. She gave them a package of financial data.

That package points out the school district spent $1,053,988.82 for equipment. The school has $90,000 allocated for two freezers that are out at Cedar Park and Selma C.H.A. T. Academy Middle School. Other schools have broken ovens and need other repairs she said.

Patricia Hildreth, a cafeteria manager at Payne Elementary School, said when groceries come in, the program needs those freezers.

She said the school board acts unfairly when it puts off decisions or waits to address issues.

“It’s not fair to make us wait,” HIldreth said.

Kirkpatrick told school board members during the last two years, the program has paid the general fund of the school system $630,895.02 and has spent $155,593.52 on maintenance.

“Any maintenance or supplies are paid for by the Child Nutrition Program,” she said.

Items maintained during the last year include filters installed on equipment, grease traps cleaned, plumbing, pest control, cleaning of hoods, pest control, freezers, replace panels in kitches, air conditioning for kitchens, tiling wallas at three schools, lowering ceilings and installation of equipment.

The cost of food has risen. It is likely the largest expenditure, Kirkpatrick said. Children at Meadowview and School of Discovery are receiving free meals.

“Since Mr. Fulton knows the school board policy is not being enforced in the system,” she said, “this money will have to come from the general fund because federal law does not allow CNP to have a bad debt. CNP has been covering this bill yearly and can no longer be responsible so money will have to come from general fund.”

Additionally, a wellness program implemented by the school district made food costs go up because meals have more fresh foods, which make them better.

Also, food cost rose because the two-week notice for field trips was not enforced by the schools.

“Money is wasted trying to provide last-minute sack lunches with food already cooked and prepared at school,” Kilpatrick said.

Labor provides another issue for expenditures. Labor runs too high, generally around $134,000 a month, she said.

Yet, three people are on CNP payroll that aren’t program workers. “What youa re asking our CNP workers is to work and earn enough money to pay these three salaries,” Kilpatrick said.

“Over a 10-year period, that would amount to one-quarter of a million dollars that should come out of general fund, but would come out of child nutrition as long as they remain on CNP payroll.”