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Lunch to cost more next school year

Washington County schools will have no choice but to raise their paid lunch prices for the 2012-13 school year.
During the May 3 Board of Education meeting, Director of Schools Ron Dykes said an annual review of paid lunch revenue is necessary to ensure compliance with the federal paid lunch equity requirement.
The “National School Lunch Program: School Food Service Account Revenue Amendments Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” requires school food authorities to ensure sufficient funds are provided to the nonprofit school food service account for meals served to students not eligible for free or reduced price meals.
Systems not meeting the weighted average must increase the prices charged for paid lunches or provide additional non-federal funds to the food service account.
In February, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service issued a memo declaring $2.51 as the required weighted average for 2012-13.
“This will require all school districts across the nation to raise their paid lunch price,” Dykes said.
To calculate the average price for the upcoming year, SFAs were instructed to use the paid lunch prices and number of paid lunches served during October 2011. The average in Washington County was $1.78, according to Dykes.
“Increasing the student paid lunch price by 25 cents will bring the system up to $2.03,” he said. “The federal government says it has to be $2.51, but we can compensate with non-federal program income from food services.”
Non-federal sources include reimbursements or matching funds for paid lunches provided by the state or county; funds provided by school-related organizations or community groups to support paid lunches; and a pro-rata share of general funds from the school district attributable to paid lunches.
Board member Todd Ganger asked if the system is being penalized for the number of reduced lunches it provides, but Dykes said that it not the case.
“It appears to be a way to make those who can afford it pay more for those who can’t,” he said.
The increased prices for the next academic year will be $1.95 for kindergarten through fourth grade; $2.05 for students in grades five through eight; and $2.15 for students in grades nine through 12. The student paid breakfast will increase by 20 cents to $1.50. There will be no change in the prices for student reduced breakfast and lunch.