Whenever I do a Google news search about school lunch, I find a virtual avalanche of articles about increases in school lunch prices. Well, when I go to the grocery store, I have noticed that food prices are creeping up, little by little. I’ve wondered about school districts and if they might be forced to pass on these costs to students.
But there’s more to it than food being more expensive in general. According to an article in the North Shore Sun, as of July 1st “many school districts to increase full-cost or ‘paid’ lunches by 5 or 10 cents per meal, depending on the district, this school year. Some local districts will increase their meal prices by as much as 25 cents.”
Take a look what is happening across the country:
- Talk Turns to Healthier Food as School Board Raises Breakfast, Lunch Prices (East Hampton, NY)
- School lunches going up, other fees remain the same (Spring Grove, MN)
- Lunch prices raised during regular meeting (Kemmerer, WY)
- Schools’ meal prices to rise again (Council Bluffs, IA)
- School districts raise lunch prices (Massachusetts and New Hampshire)
- Thursday morning briefing: the price of lunch, […] (Clovis, NM)
- U46 raises lunch prices by a dime (Elgin, IL)
- Chandler starts school year with hike in lunch prices (Chandler, AZ)
- Denison raises price of school lunches (Denison, TX)
In this sampling of articles, price increases fluctuated from just $0.05 to $0.50 per lunch. I think a five cent increase is no big deal, but too much more than that is challenging for families, especially if they have more than one child. School districts rely on the paying kids to help off-set the costs of the other kids. But I don’t think a lot of people know that when a child purchases school lunch for $2.35 or $2.05 or whatever it is in your area, the USDA chips in some additional money for the paid lunch. The USDA reimburses $0.26 per paid lunch (reference for 2010-2011 school year). So when a kid decides not to buy lunch, that school loses more than just that particular child’s money. It’s no wonder schools want kids to eat the lunch provided by the school.
With these price increases, some parents will have to start packing lunch. I’ll be frank and say a lot of parents don’t know what to put in a lunch. Lots of times I’m flummoxed by what to pack in the morning for my son, but sending a banana and some flavored water (something I saw in a lunch bag) is not better than a school lunch.