School meal prices increase

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

School officials in Charlotte County are pointing to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations in justifying an increase of 5 cents for school lunches across the division.

The regulations — according to Division Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard — are required of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program 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.

“The amount per meal increase in calculated using the inflation rate,” Leonard said.

Leonard said the law also caps the required increase in lunch prices at 10 cents in any year. She said the paid breakfast and adult meal prices will also see an increase due to the rising costs of food.

Currently, lunches cost $2.25 at full price, 40 cents at reduced prices and $3.25 for adult prices. The prices, respectively, will be $2.30, 45 cents and $3.30 during the 2017-18 school year.

According to the USDA, the National School Lunch Program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. The program operates in more than 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools.

According to the USDA, school lunches must meet meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The agency cited that current meal patterns increase the availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the school menu.