Cost of school breakfasts and lunches to go up

Food and nutrition services supervisor says increasing fuel costs have driven up the price of food

June 07, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Stacey Owens serves lunch to students at the North Hagerstown High School cafeteria recently.
Herald-Mail file photo

Fiestada pizza, shrimp poppers and tasty tacos will cost 10 cents more next school year after the Washington County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve its Food and Nutrition Services budget.

Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor Jeff Proulx warned the school board in February that he would be returning to ask for a price increase for school breakfasts and lunches.

While a federal act mandated a price increase, Proulx told the school board Tuesday that he would have recommended a 10-cent increase anyway to help cover increasing food and labor costs. Increasing fuel costs have driven up the price of food, he said.

A federal act includes a requirement for equity in school meal pricing to ensure school systems don't offset the cost of paid meals with federal reimbursement money they get for free and reduced-price meals, Proulx said in February.

That means the cost of a school meal must equal the federal reimbursement for a free meal, which is $2.46, Proulx said at the time. This past school year, meals cost $2.05 for students in grades six through 12 and $1.80 for students in prekindergarten to grade five.

A school meal includes a choice of milk and two selections of fruits and vegetables, according to a copy of the school system's May menu.

The most the school system can increase the meal price in any given year is 10 cents, Proulx has said.

The 10-cent meal increase that will kick in with the new school year also affects the price that staff members will pay for school breakfasts and lunches.

Breakfast prices for students will increase to $1.10, while the price staff pays goes up to $2.10.

Lunch prices for students will go up to $1.90 for elementary students and $2.15 for secondary students. Staff will pay $3.30 for lunch.

The last time meal prices were increased was in July 2007, according to presentation documents.

Proulx said the school system's lunch prices were below the state average this past school year. The state average for elementary students' lunches was $2.09 and for secondary students' lunches, it was $2.33.

By federal law, the maximum the school system can charge for a reduced-price lunch is 40 cents and for a reduced-price breakfast is 30 cents, Proulx said Tuesday.

The Food and Nutrition Services budget is expected to break even for the upcoming fiscal year with revenues and expenditures projected at $10,072,800, according to presentation documents.

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