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School lunch cost to climb

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The state Department of Education says it will raise school breakfast and lunch prices March 1, despite objections from the Board of Education.

The cost of a school lunch will go up by 15 cents to $2.35.

The price of breakfast will rise 5 cents, to $1.

The board voted 8-2 in November against a proposal to raise the prices, saying a law that requires the department to set prices at no less than half the cost of preparing the meals should be repealed and that any price increase would hurt families already struggling to make ends meet.

PRICE INCREASES

Effective March 1, school meal prices will go up. The new prices:

» Student lunch: $2.35 (up 15 cents)

» Second student lunch: $4.70 (up 30 cents)

» Student breakfast: $1 (up 5 cents)

» Second student breakfast: $2 (up 10 cents)

Source: Department of Education

 

Yesterday, though, the department said it had to comply with Act 26. Administrative rules require it to seek board approval for meal price increases, but in this case the law takes precedence, the department decided.

"The department re-examined the law that was passed and wanted to make sure that it was in compliance with the law," said spokeswoman Sandy Goya. "The law clearly states that the department must ensure the meal price is no less than half" the cost of preparing the meal.

The board said that parents should not be asked to pay any more.

"We just raised the meal prices," said Chairman Garrett Toguchi after the November vote. "The fee increases are really squeezing out the middle-income families, especially those with multiple kids."

Toguchi could not be reached last yesterday for comment.

The cost of a school lunch jumped in 2010 to $2.20 from $1.25; breakfast prices went to 95 cents from 35 cents; and school bus fares rose to 75 cents each way, from 35 cents. In January the cost of the A+ after-school program also rose by $25, to $80, for a family’s first child.

Glenna Owens, department food services branch director, said the meal increases are the minimum needed to comply with the law. "When you look at our full cost … that’s what’s required," she said.

Prices for other meals are also going up. For second or "subsequent" lunches, students will pay $4.70, or 30 cents more. Adult lunches will also go up 30 cents, to $4.70. The price of a reduced-cost lunch for low-income students will stay the same, at 40 cents. Students from the most disadvantaged families will continue to pay nothing for meals.

 

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