If you operate a small, private school, you may not be sure whether to offer a lunch program or just have parents send lunch along with all of the kids. Some private schools do offer lunch programs, while others aim to keep things simple and don't include this in their services. There are certainly both pros and cons to offering a lunch program. Here's a closer look at both sides:
Pro: You'll be making things simpler for parents.
Parents these days are already very busy. Having to pack a lunch for their kids adds something else to their day. If you provide lunch for the kids, this will free up time for the parents, which may mean they are more able to become involved in activities like your PTA and fundraising programs. Plus, you may attract more families to the school because they don't have to worry about the responsibility of packing lunches.
Pro: You can contract with an outside food service program rather than hiring more employees.
Starting up a school lunch program is probably a lot simpler than you think. There are food service companies that will come in and prepare the lunch for you. You generally sign a yearly contract with them, and they supply everything from the food to the workers. You might be able to find a few parent or grandparent volunteers to come in and help supervise the lunch room so you don't have to hire another staff member to do this, either.
Con: You need the kitchen space.
If the building you use as your school does not have a large kitchen, the food service program may have a tough time operating. They might be able to bring in some meals that are prepared off-site, but this will be much more limited than what they could provide with a full kitchen. You could, of course, expand the building to add a kitchen, but this gets costly.
Con: School lunch programs may raise costs.
You can certainly charge parents per lunch as is customary at most schools. However, even if you do charge a per lunch fee, offering a lunch program is likely to raise costs as you have to pay for everything from hiring the food service company to printing out weekly menus. If the families in your school are on tight incomes, this increase in costs might not be welcome and may even cause some students to leave.
Want more information about lunch programs? Check it out here!