In order to remain in federal compliance, the St. Clair R-XIII and Lonedell R-XIV school districts will increase their meal prices when classes resume in August.
The board of education in both districts approved a 10-cent hike for lunches and a nickel increase for breakfasts. Lunch prices also increased by a dime a year ago.
“It’s a federal requirement for us to do this,” R-XIII Superintendent Mike Murphy said. “We have to be in a position to charge a certain amount for our meals in order to be in compliance.”
Breakfast in St. Clair schools will be $1.35 starting this fall. Lunch will cost $2.35 at the elementary schools and $2.45 at the junior and senior high. Adult prices will remain at $1.75 and $2.75, respectively.
In Lonedell, breakfast will cost $1.25. Lunch will be $1.85. Staff prices will be $2 and $2.70.
Murphy said because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, all public schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are required to provide the same level of support for paid lunches as they are for lunches served to students eligible for free or reduced meals.
“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires all public schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to provide the same level of support for lunches as they are for lunches served to students eligible for free or reduced lunches,” Murphy said in a summary of the program. “A comparison of our average paid lunch price to the federal reimbursement rate provided for free lunches is conducted annually.
“Basically, we must gradually increase our lunch prices (per a Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education formula) until we are charging at least what the federal reimbursement rate is.”
The current reimbursement rate is $2.95.
As far as reduced prices, breakfast in St. Clair and Lonedell will cost students 30 cents while lunch will run 40 cents. Those prices did not change.
“Without this federal reimbursement, the cost of our meals would be significantly higher,” Murphy said. “This reimbursement aspect is critical. We comply with the federal government to get some of our money back.”
The lunch price increase is mandatory through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“This is really one of those nonnegotiable items,” Murphy has said.
The act directs the participants to compare the average price charged for lunches served to students not eligible for free or reduced-price lunches to the difference between the higher federal reimbursement provided for free lunches and the lower federal reimbursement provided for paid lunches.
If the average paid lunch price is less than the difference, the district must either gradually adjust average prices or provide non-federal funding to cover the difference.
Currently, school districts receive $2.65 per student per day in reimbursement costs from the United States Department of Agriculture through the lunch program.