Polk board of education raises lunch prices

Published 5:01 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Polk County Board of Education members voted at their May meeting to increase school lunches by 10 cents for the 2012-2013 school year.
“We looked at other systems around the area to see what their prices were and most everyone was going up by 10 cents,” Superintendent Bill Miller said. “There’s no magic about this in the first place – we just have to do what we can to slowly move our prices closer to national averages.”
The federal government required all school systems to begin the increases last year in an effort to shrink the gap between what schools charge for meals and what the government reimburses through the free lunch program.
In 2011, board members approved a $.05 increase for sixth-12th graders and a $.10 increase for preK-fifth grade students to meet the mandate. This year the new increase means preK-fifth grade students will pay $2.20, while sixth-grade to 12th-grade students will pay $2.40.
Miller said administrators actually proposed a $.15 hike at the preK-fifth level but board members proposed keeping the change to just $.10 at all grade levels to make it simple for parents to understand.
More than 60 percent of students in Polk County schools  qualify for either free or reduced-price lunches through the federal program. This year the federal government is allocating $2.79 per day to Polk County schools for each student in the free lunch program.
Polk County Schools Child Nutritionist Mary Butler said so far this year 25,070 of the lunches purchased in Polk County schools were at reduced prices, while 161,461 were free lunches.
Meanwhile, the system has sold 69,369 lunches at full price this year.
Miller said he doesn’t feel the system will have to get lunch prices up to $2.79 anytime soon. Instead, he said he thinks the federal government will require increases until all systems have met a national average for lunch prices, which is currently around $2.60. On the current track the system should be at that range in two to three years.

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