School lunch prices are going up next year and could be increasing over the next several years.
Effingham County Board of Education members opted to lunch prices by 15 cents for students in elementary, middle and high schools.
School system food services staff requested increases of 30 cents to bring the system closer to the federally-mandated weighted average of $2.70 for all paid lunches. This dollar amount is the difference in the federal reimbursement for student lunches for the 2014-15 school year.
Effingham County’s weighted average for 2014-15 was $2.07.
“I’m not in favor of doing 30 cents at this time,” said Chairman Lamar Allen.
Lunch prices at elementary schools next year will be $2.10 and will be $2.35 at middle and high schools. Lunch prices were required to increase by at least 10 cents.
Going up 30 cents would have given a weighted average of $2.37 and provide credit toward weighted averages for at least the next two school years.
“Raising the student lunches by 30 cents will decrease the amount of increase need for the following years,” said
The higher lunch prices also are expected to help finance the $1 million need to outfit the new Rincon Elementary School kitchen. Kitchen updates also are needed at several schools, and the system has been expanding its nutritional options.
“We’re offering better quality food and more choices,” said Jessica O’Leary, school nutrition program administrator.
School system human resources director Becky Long said O’Leary has had an impact on the schools’ offerings.
“Jessica is finishing up her first year with us and in terms of increasing participation, involving students in the recipes, we are just extremely pleased with what she’s done,” she said.
Added Allen: “We have heard nothing but good things.”