School meal prices to increase by 25 to 50 cents, District 51 says

By EMILY ANDERSON
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Student meal prices will increase by 25 to 50 cents this school year because of increasing food and labor costs, according to School District 51 Nutrition Services.

Schools are able to offer breakfast and lunch for less than it costs a family to get the same items at a local grocery store because the district buys and serves in bulk, said Dan Sharp, District 51 Nutrition Services director. But a spike in food costs over the past couple years and a steady climb in food-service labor costs led the school district to increase the price of school breakfasts and lunches, he said.

Lunch prices are increasing from: $1.50 to $2 for elementary school students; $1.75 to $2.25 for middle school students; and $2.25 to $2.75 for high school students. For breakfast, elementary school students will pay $1.25 instead of $1, and sixth- through 12th-grade students will pay $1.35 instead of $1.10.

School employees will now pay $3.25 for lunch and $1.75 for breakfast. An additional carton of milk will now cost 65 cents.

Students who qualify for free lunch and breakfast will continue to receive free meals.

Reduced-lunch-only students in third through 12th grades will pay 40 cents for lunch.

The Federal Income Chart decides which families are eligible for free or reduced lunch. A household with one adult and one child can make no more than $25,900 a year in order to qualify. School districts add $6,660 a year to that wage figure for each additional person living in a home to determine which families qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.

Last school year 38.8 percent of District 51 students qualified for free or reduced lunch, a rate more than 3 percent higher than the state average. Sharp said the number of students receiving free and reduced-cost meals in the district does not affect meal prices.

New this year, elementary school cafeterias will have the same salads and whole-grain sandwiches featured at middle schools and high schools, and menus will be coded for nutritional value with the Go, Slow, Whoa plan. LiveWell helped design the program, which codes low-fat, highly nutritious foods as “Go” foods. Foods that are nutritious but higher in fat and calories are labeled “Slow” foods. High-fat or high-sugar foods are designated “Whoa” selections.


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