Meals losing money in Dallas

DALLAS — The food service program at Dallas School District will finish the year with a deficit of about $10,000 but has made gains since a mid-year review in January.

“That is conservative. I don’t expect it to be any worse than that,” said Business Manager Debbie MacLean at the June 18 Dallas School Board meeting.

MacLean said the review in January had the district losing about 39 cents per meal it served. That has since been reduced to a 19-cent loss per meal.

“We are making gains,” MacLean said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will end with positive (balance).”

MacLean said the biggest losses occur in November and December, when the district loses $1.05 and $1.45 per meal, respectively.

“I think the biggest area of opportunity is the leakage in November and December, in the slow months,” said board member Jon Woods. “You can see the meal equivalent loss. They are massive compared to the rest of the year.”

He suggested program managers focus on making those months more profitable.

“Which is easier said than done because, I do believe there is a bare minimum that you have to run a kitchen at whether you have any meals,” Woods said. “That’s the biggest area of opportunity. I bet you that would get us that $10,000, or close to it, back.”

MacLean said the challenge is that November and December are the months with the fewest serving days.

“If you look at the federal reimbursements, they are quite low because of that,” she said. “Our staff are able to use their miscellaneous and vacation time during the closure when we are not operating, so staff costs are the same.”

MacLean said it’s been at least two years since the districts raised prices on meals. Board member Matt Posey said that might be a consideration. Superintendent Michelle Johnstone said MacLean could bring a price analysis to meeting later in the summer. The board approved a resolution transferring $10,000 to cover the expected deficit.

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