04/13/05 — School lunch prices going up

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School lunch prices going up

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 13, 2005 1:48 PM

It wasn't exactly a food fight, but school board members dished about breakfast and lunch prices for students Monday night before approving an increase.

Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance, presented the proposal to the board. The district's nutrition program has been suffering, she said, estimating the loss in excess of $200,000 over the last three or four years.

With growing numbers of students taking advantage of the free and reduced lunch program, often the school system makes more money from that than from paying customers.

She said on average it costs the school system $1.20 for a breakfast plate and $2.41 for lunch plates. Current charges for breakfast are 75 cents for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and $1 for adults; lunches range from $1.10 for kindergarten through fifth grade to $1.25 for grades 6-12 and $2 for adults.

Proposed prices reflected an average 25-cent increase. Suggested and later approved were charges of $1 for K-12 breakfast, $1.25 for adults, and lunch prices of $1.50 for grades 6-12, $2.50 for adults. The board stalled on the request that students in K-5 be charged 40 cents more next year, or $1.50.

Board member Pete Gurley questioned younger children being charged the same amount as those in grades 6-12. He made a motion to reduce the figure to $1.25 for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

He asked Mrs. Barwick how much the 25-cent reduction would cost the school system. She estimated the cut translated to a $100,000 difference for the nutrition program.

Put to a vote, all except board member Rick Pridgen supported the change.

Pridgen said he voted against it "predominantly because we have seen some astronomical gas prices and if this thing is going to set us back $100,000, I don't think it's wise.

"I get a feeling we're going to be in for a rude awakening next year with fuel prices and how it's going to affect the prices we pay for food."

Board member Shirley Sims found Pridgen's suggestion hard to digest.

"Our purpose is to take care of children," she said. She said the amount for a younger child's lunch meal might sound reasonable to those making good salaries, but "a lot of folks can't pay that for two children."