School lunch costs could increase next year
LINCOLNTON – Parents could see the cost of a school lunch increase as much as 35 cents beginning in the fall.
Lincoln County Schools’ Child Nutrition Director Byron Sackett told school board members at their Monday, April 16, meeting that a federal mandate will require schools to increase the price of lunches and serve better, healthier meals.
“We have the option of increasing it by 10 cents a year or doing it all in one year,” Sackett said.
Elementary school students currently pay $2.15 per meal. Middle and high school students pay $2.25.
Sackett said he recommends taking the increase all in one year, since projections show a rate increase about every three years. Taking it in yearly chunks might mean raising the cost 10 cents each year for the foreseeable future, he said. Jumping this year to $2.50 would equalize the cost across all grade levels.
But Board Member Candy Burgin said it’s a big hit in one year, especially for parents who are scraping by.
“If you only increase it by 10 cents, that’s cost savings over the next two years,” she said. “You’re jumping from $2.15 to $2.50 a day, and that’s all they’re going to see. I don’t think that’ll go well with parents.”
Sackett also said the cost increase will help support the countywide free breakfast program launched this year.
“Before we offered free breakfast, parents would pay $1 for breakfast and $2.15 for lunch. That’s $3.15, so paying $2.50 for both now is still a cost savings,” Sackett said.
The board hasn’t actually taken up the issue yet. Sackett will present a formal recommendation at a future Board of Education meeting.