Rejoice, Highland Park Middle School parents: As of next week, your children will be able to eat food from Chick-fil-A and New York Sub, without needing your delivery services.
Administrators at the campus, which also houses McCulloch Intermediate School, have brokered a deal with the two restaurants to supply lunches until the cafeteria is renovated. Logistics are still being ironed out, but each student will have an opportunity to buy one meal from each of the two restaurants each week.
“We’re going to deliver sandwiches to the cafeteria,” said New York Sub owner Ken Harkness, “and they’re going to put it together with chips and a drink, and take care of the kids.”
The new arrangement was announced Tuesday, two days after administrators and the PTA sent an email to parents that said, “Late lunch deliveries of any kind will no longer be accepted. This means any type of lunch — homemade or otherwise.”
Laurie Hitzelberger, principal of HPMS and MIS, said the joint campus of 2,200 students has been dealing with more than 100 meal deliveries each day, despite a warning before the start of the semester that such parcels from parents would not be permitted.
“There have been times,” Hitzelberger said, “when a parent might go home, and they see the lunch on the counter, and they run back up to school. So we were relaxing [the rules] a little bit to try to allow that type of thing.
But the abuse of that relaxation has led to the rules getting stricter. The multiple deliveries disrupted instruction time, because a student either has to leave a classroom to get his lunch or someone has to enter the room to bring it to him. The deliveries also bogged the security procedures at the front door, Hitzelberger said.
Tim Turner, Highland Park ISD’s assistant superintendent for business services, said the contractor told the district last week that construction is still scheduled to finish by the end of October.
Until then, HMPS and MIS students will be able to spend $5 once a week on an original Chick-fil-A sandwich, and $5 another day on a New York Sub turkey and cheese sandwich. Each will come with a bag of chips and a bottle of water.
On the other three days, a student who does not bring a lunch from home will be able to buy a turkey sandwich prepared at another school — plus chips and a drink — for $3.50.
Hitzelberger said a large portion of the credit for the new initiative goes to cafeteria manager Brenda Vardell, who reached out to the restaurants.
“She’s really the one who’s working really hard to try to get some options out there for kids,” she said.
Harkness, who’s owned New York Sub for four months shy of 40 years, said he was more than happy to get involved. After all, he said, there used to be a monthly “New York Sub Day” at the middle school.
“We’re right around the corner,” he said. “We’ve been here forever.”
And for the next month, they’ll be in the middle school cafeteria.