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Prices will rise for school lunches

Lunch prices in District 196 schools will go up next year, and there's nothing the district can do about it.

Next year's increase will be the second in two years for the district. Food and nutrition services coordinator Wendy Knight told school board members Monday the increase is the result of federal rules. Those rules, part of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, are meant to ensure schools provide the same level of financial support for meals served to all students.

"We're raising the prices because the federal government is telling us to raise them," Knight said at a Monday night school board meeting.

Starting in the fall, lunch prices will increase by 10 cents at all levels. Breakfast prices will increase by five cents. Under the new prices, an elementary lunch will cost $2.30 next year, middle school $2.35 and high school $2.45.

The increase will likely mean fewer students eating school lunches. Knight said a five cent increase in meal prices typically leads to a 5 percent decrease in students buying their lunch at school. In some years those numbers might bounce back as the school year progresses, but Knight said that hasn't been the case this school year, when concerns about new nutrition rules that limit portion sizes and require students to take fresh fruits and vegetables have discouraged students from eating school lunches. Knight said the district currently serves about 1,400 fewer lunches per day than it did last year.