School lunch prices going up

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Parents in the Opp City School system will pay more for school lunches next school year.

“We certainly don’t want to have to do this, but we have to,” Superintendent Michael Smithart said. “All the systems in the county are essentially doing the same thing.”

Child Nutrition director Heather Short said the increase is necessary because of the increase in costs due to federal legislation for more healthy school lunches supported by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Last year, Mrs. Obama launched her “Let’s Move” campaign, which is geared to target childhood obesity.

Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 in December to improve school nutrition in the National School Lunch Program.

The bill adds 6 cents to the federal reimbursement for schools that meet forthcoming updated nutrition standards for breakfast and lunch.

It also ensures that water is available free of charge during the meal service and that only lower-fat milk options are served.

Beginning Aug. 5, prices will increase from $1.60 to $1.75 at the elementary and middle schools, and from $1.75 to $2 at the high school. That’s a weekly increase of 75-cents per child at the lower levels, and a $1.25 increase per week for those at the high school.

Short said the government reimbursement is approximately $2.50 per meal for children who receive free lunches and the government wants those who pay for lunches to be charged that amount.

“We are headed to $2.50, but it’s going to take several years to get there,” Smithart said. “It’s still lower at the elementary and middle school level.”

Breakfast rates will remain the same at 75 cents at the elementary and middle schools.

A poll is being conducted at the high school to determine the interest of breakfast being served at that level, Short said.