Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Habra scales back school lunch invite


Haines school superintendent Tony Habra has cut back on a proposal floated a few days ago to invite the public to try out lunches at the school’s cafeteria.

Now, that invitation is limited to relatives and others closely involved with the students such as members of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations, Habra said Tuesday.

Parents have been welcome to buy school lunch for years. But Habra recently expanded the invitation to the public as a community-building effort.

Habra also wanted to get word out about the quality and variety of the food, which he and school nutrition program director Brandie Stickler say is far above typical school cafeteria food. Meals include such dishes such as teriyaki salmon, halibut casserole and elk burgers. Lunch costs $7.

Local restaurant owners, however, were not thrilled with the promotion. They said in interviews that making money during winter months is difficult without competition from the school.

“I want to support the school, but at the same time it’s more competition. There’s no question,” said Bamboo Room owner Christy Tengs Fowler.

Mountain Market’s Mary Jean Borcik said she did not fully oppose to the idea of promoting school lunch to the public, but still believed it was inappropriate. Borcik said she was okay with a limited-time promotion or a purpose-specific fundraiser. But she added: “I just think there are other ways to support the school.”

Habra said he didn’t see inviting the public as competing with restaurants. “No more than the senior center does with their lunches. People come here for a different reason than they would a restaurant.” He pointed out that a gourmet cooking class for years has made lunches that have been sold for $8 to the public.

Borcik drew a distinction between inviting the public to the cafeteria and selling meals made by the cooking class. “(A cooking class) is different because there is a purpose behind it. The kids are receiving training,” she said.

“If the school did decide to do this, I’d just want them to be extremely clear and up front to the public as to why,” Borcik said.

Habra was undecided Tuesday on whether he would discuss this matter with the school board.

school board president Anne Marie Palmieri said the question of promoting lunch to the public hasn’t been brought to the board for consideration. She said she would discuss the issue with Habra.


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