By Amanda Amsel
The South-Western City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to increase the price of school lunchs for the next two school years at the recent meeting.
The board met on June 9 and approved the increase of school lunches for the 2014/15 school year and the 2015/16 school year.
“School lunches will increase by 10 cents each of the schools years,” said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director for the district.
Currently, elementary school students pay $2.25, intermediate and middle school students pay $2.50 and high school students pay $2.75 per day. The new prices for the 2014/15 school year will be $2.35, $2.60 and $2.85. The prices in the 2015/16 school year will be $2.45, $2.70 and $2.95.
“Year after year the prices the district pays to provide food to students has increased,” said Ken Stark, director of business services for the district. “If you look at the consumer price index since the last time school lunch prices were increased our cost have rose by 17 percent.”
Stark said as a result of these increasing expenses they had to ask families to pay a little more a day.
The last time the district increased school lunches was in the 2007 and they increased it by $.25.
“We compared what we are charging for school lunches to other districts in central Ohio and found that we are comparable if not lower,” Nekoloff said.
Officials say by increasing the price of school lunches students would still be able to get the variety of healthy options the district currently offers. Something that may not have occurred if this increase did not happen.
Some of the healthy meal options on a typical South-Western School menu include chef salads, roasted potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables and pasta with meat sauce.
“School lunches are not how student’s parents remember them, they are much healthier and are just better food,” Stark said. “Students get a great value for what they are receiving. You can’t get a whole meal this healthy and this low in cost from a chain restaurant. Today you see use of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, that isn’t something these students’ parents probably got when they were in school.”
The school lunch program sustains itself at South-Western City Schools. If there is any money left over from the rate increase it will go back into new equipment in the kitchens and increasing the district’s food supply.
“The district does a wonderful job keeping the cost down and providing healthy foods for the kids,” Nekoloff said. “The kids also seem to enjoy all the different food options.”
Currently, approximately 695,600 lunches are served a year in the district, with more and more students moving toward wanting a hot fresh lunch instead of packing.
The district will continue their free and reduced lunch program and follow the standard pricing guidelines by the federal government. Breakfast prices will stay the same.