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Lunch prices heading up in Chambersburg schools

June 05, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Eating healthier comes at a cost and that will be reflected in higher lunch prices next year in the Chambersburg Area School District.

Last week, the school board approved a 10-cent increase in lunches and a 5-cent increase in milk, Business Manager Rick Vensel said. The cost of an elementary school lunch will be $1.80, a secondary lunch will be $1.95 and milk will be 35 cents, Food Service Director Ann Ziobrowski said Monday.

Inflation and higher salaries and benefits account for part of the increase, but Vensel said better nutrition also figures into the equation.

"With the new nutrition standards, we're providing much healthier food, which can tend to cost more," Vensel said last week.

"That's absolutely true," Ziobrowski said. For example, she said that whole-grain bread sticks average 6 cents higher per serving than the white bread alternative.

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"The cost of fresh fruits and fresh produce is higher, and we serve those everyday," Ziobrowski said. While the district has been working to improve the nutritional content of lunches for a decade, she said stricter federal guidelines that went into effect in 2004 accelerated the process of improving school meals.

Lunch prices were increased last year as well, she said.

While students who buy lunch at school are getting a better diet, healthy eating needs to begin at home, Ziobrowski said.

"If they are buying their lunch here, we only have them for 16 percent of their meals" during the year, she said.

Food Services is not funded in the budget and "acts as a small business," Ziobrowski said. With a budget this year of more than $3.2 million, it serves meals at 20 district schools and the Franklin Learning Center, along with Head Start programs and some daycare centers, she said.

Food Services employs 43 full-time employees, another 43 part-time workers, as well as some substitutes and students, she said.

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