Higher school lunches
School meals will increase next year under a plan approved by the Watauga County Board of Education Monday night.
School lunch prices for students will increase by 15 cents, with grades pre-K through 3 moving to $1.95, grades 4 to 8 to $2.05. Grades 9-12 to $2.20 and adult prices to $3.25. Elementary school breakfast prices will increase to $1.20, high school breakfast will increase to $1.50, and adult breakfast will increase to $1.75.
After-school snack will increase by a nickel, to 85 cents.
School nutrition director Susan Trivette said there was a 3 percent increase from the food supplier and, with the beverage contract in a bid process, the system was facing its first beverage increase in five years. “I really feel it (food) will be a 3 percent increase, if not more,” Trivette said. With the same number of lunches served per month as were sold during February, it would generate $39,000 for the next fiscal year.
Trivette said meals had been analyzed for nutritional content, carbohydrates, and other health measures. She said if participation increased and prices slightly increased, the lunch program would be soon self-sufficient.
School board chairman Lowell Younce said a higher price might lead to fewer students eating lunch. he said he didn't mind if the system had to invest a little more money in the program because it was important to provide what might be the child's best meal of the day.
Younce said a nutritious meal was one of the big factors in children receiving a good education and said he was concerned about regular increases. Trivette said it was the second increase in seven years and was comparable to the prices of other school districts.
Trivette said meals were designed to be appealing, though she was concerned because of the potential for fewer lunch sales and the state of the economy. She said about a third of all students ate school lunches, which she said had increased since last year but had declined overall in recent years. She also hoped students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch would apply so more students would qualify and increase matching funds.
School board member Steve Combs said he had always encouraged running the lunch program as a business, with more offerings to generate revenue.
The school board unanimously approved the proposed increases.