FILE PHOTO/METRO CREATIVE SERVICES A file photo of a lunch tray.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

On the first day of school today, Montclair elementary school students can choose between waffles with syrup, turkey sausage and sweet potato fries, or a burger with cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce for lunch. At Montclair High School, first-day offerings include baked chicken with broccoli and brown rice, a baked-potato bar with a choice of toppings, and a burger topped with cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce.

There is a new food service vendor in Montclair’s school cafeterias, starting today.

On July 1, Montclair entered into a contract with Fairfield-based Pomptonian Food Service, after switching over from Chartwell’s, the food service vendor used by the district since 2011.

According to the school budget, the district anticipates spending $205,000 on food services for 2017-2018. Last year, the district set aside $130,000 in appropriations for food service; the 2017-2018 appropriation represents a 57 percent increase.

Business Administrator Emidio D’Andrea said Tuesday afternoon that the contract is for a one-year period, and therefore for the 2017-2018 school year, but it may be renewed each year for up to four consecutive years by mutual agreement between the schools and Pomptonian, he said. When asked about the costs of the contract, he said that the contract allows for a .1620 cent reimbursement for every reimbursable meal, and that the contract guarantees that the maximum deficit shall not exceed $106,929.

This summer, the district announced that unpaid school meal balances totaled $100,000. However, a large number of parents responded by saying that they had repeatedly received bills for meals their children had not purchased.

Montclair High School students in grades 10 through 12 are allowed to leave the campus for lunch.

According to the price chart on the district website, the regular prices for lunch are $3.40 in elementary school, $3.65 in middle school, and $3.90 in high school. The reduced price for lunch in all three grade levels is 40 cents. For breakfast, the regular prices are $2.10 in elementary school; $2.35 in middle school and $2.60 in high school, and the reduced price is 30 cents.

The schools have a payment option through MySchoolBucks, an online payment portal. Parents log into their family’s account on that site and add money to their children’s meal accounts.