Community cites concerns over food quality at board of ed meeting

District served four times as many breakfasts with less than half the staff

Member Rosy Arroyo kicked off a discussion about the quality of food and service that is hampered by staffing issues in the Cherry Hill school district during the Nov. 23 board of education meeting.

Since last school year, federal funding has allowed the district to provide free meals for  students, including breakfast and lunch, both while students learned remotely and now that they are back in person.

“We’re running at about 46 percent of our staff,” Superintendent Joseph Meloche said.

“There is still a problem with the supply side of the items that we’re getting in. There has not been a change in terms of what we’ve been ordering in terms of the quality or in terms of what’s there.”

The district is serving on average four times as many breakfasts on a daily basis and 75 percent more lunches than it served in 2019, with less than half of the staff.

Meloche also noted that while the meal sizes may be smaller than what some students are used to eating at home, they follow federal guidelines about what constitutes a portion size. He also acknowledged that there is a supply problem, though there has not been a change in what has been ordered or the quality of what arrives.

“All of us as consumers have dealt with bruised fruit or bread items that are moist and end up with something on them,” Meloche noted. “That’s certainly not what we want, and we want kids to speak up and let someone in the building know.”

“We would like to expand the meal selection that is available, but until we hire additional staff, it’s a challenge to do that,” Meloche said.

In other news:

  • Board member Carolyn Matlack announced she would step down at the end of this month.
  • Cherry Hill East raised $5,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand during Spirit Week.
  • Cherry Hill West switched to the Lunch and Learn schedule, where students have the option of getting academic help during their lunch period or going to lunch.
  • The winter concert will be performed live and virtually at Cherry Hill West on Dec. 16, and “Cinderella” is underway for January. It will be the first musical performed in person since 2019.
  • Residents thanked the district for coming to and ratifying a four-year contract for the Cherry Hill Education Association, which represents more than 1,300 teachers and other district employees.
  • Joseph Slavin III was approved as the interim principal at Kilmer Elementary School beginning Jan. 2. He replaces K. Rickansrud.
  • Abel Ramos, assistant principal at Cherry Hill West, will become interim principal at Beck Middle School beginning Jan. 3.

A town hall to discuss bond referendum improvements will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Cherry Hill East. The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting at West will also be available via Zoom.