Carroll County student meal prices will be going up next school year.
On Thursday, the Carroll County School Board voted unanimously to increase student and adult meal prices in the schools by five cents for each meal. With the action, lunch prices will increase to $1.65 daily for students in grades K-7, and to $1.75 for students in grades 8-12.
Carroll County Public Schools Finance Manager Tammy Quesenberry explained that the increases are federally mandated and that Carroll is still far behind the national recommendation of $2.51 for lunch.
“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires that the average paid meal price be annually adjusted,” Quesenberry told the Carroll School Board. “So what we are asking is that we have a five-cent increase in our lunch and breakfast rates for the upcoming school year.”
Quesenberry said the increases are a federal mandate and that Carroll is required to comply. The most a school system can increase its meal prices in any given year is 10 cents, however.
“We are recommending we do five cents right now,” she said “It’s something that every school system is having to deal with.”
Carroll County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Smith said the mandate is part of the Federal Food Act.
“So we have little choice,” he said.
In figuring the increase for 2012-13, school divisions must calculate a weighted average paid lunch price. School divisions, which on average charged less than $2.51 for paid lunches, are required to adjust their weighted average lunch price or add nonfederal funds to the nonprofit school food service account to cover the difference. The amount of the per meal increase will be calculated using 2 percent, plus the inflation factor of 2.18 percent, for a total of 4.18 percent, as specified in the law. The inflation rate is adjusted annually.
School Board member Sanford Hendrick made a motion to increase the meal prices by five cents, which school board member Reginald Gardner seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
After the vote, School Board Chairman Brian Spencer said he understood that if a student chose to eat a hamburger for lunch, he or she would also be required to get a fruit or vegetable. He asked if that meant lunch was being expanded. Quesenberry said that was the case, and the increases would take effect July 1.
“I just want to make sure people understand they get an expanded lunch with the increases,” Spencer said.
Gardner added that if it’s a mandate from Washington, D.C., you have to do it. Quesenberry said that the recommended federal lunch price is $2.51.
“And the $2.51 will be moving up so we will be playing catch up,” Smith added.