Tucumcari Public School officials are trying to get the word out to parents that the elementary school cafeteria and Mesa cafeteria are inviting parents to dine with their children at lunchtime. Sonia Raftery, executive assistant to the superintendent, said the purpose of inviting parents is two-fold.
“We have been looking for ways to generate money for our cafeteria operations,” said Raftery, “and we want parents to sample the healthy food we are serving their children.”
Raftery said it is likely that mostly elementary school and middle school parents will eat at school with their children.
Brenda McDonald, supervisor of the elementary school cafeteria, said anyone, including parents, have always been invited to eat at the cafeteria, but not many have chosen to do so. “It’s an open cafeteria. We’re not trying to compete with restaurants for lunch business,” said McDonald. “but some parents have complained about our food in the past and they didn’t even eat here. I want to tell parents they need to come eat with us, so they can see what their children are being served.”
Raftery said parents are charged $2.75 per meal.
“This is a way we found to generate money that doesn’t involve us having to go get approval from the school board,” said Raftery. “About ten percent of our elementary school parents are active in wanting to know what their children are eating at school. This is a way to get more parents involved.”
Raftery said suggestions from parents are routinely put into practice. “Earlier this year we didn’t serve fresh milk. Some parents complained so we started serving fresh milk everyday,” she said. “Parents have a real voice when it comes to student lunches.”
Lunches are free for all Tucumcari Public School students. School lunches must meet federal nutrition guidelines in order for the school system to continue in the free lunch program. McDonald said the nutrition guidelines apply to food served to parents. “We will be able to give parents slightly larger portions than their children get.”