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School lunches to cost more

Food service should break even

August 11, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Students going to local schools this fall will need to bring a little extra money, since the School Committee unanimously approved hiking lunch costs by 25 cents.

The decision came out of a workshop last week between members, administrators and food service staff. Member Scott Lazo said the food service is one school department that's generally expected to at least break even.

"They wanted much more. But if we just keep our heads above water [we're OK] ," he said, observing that, while a rather large number of students get subsidized lunches for free, "The working class in Southbridge has to pay this."

The new rates call for breakfasts to be free for elementary schoolers, $1 for middle or high schoolers, and $2 for adults, with lunches costing $1.75, $2 and $3.75, respectively. The system also covers lunches at Trinity Catholic, which cost $2.

" [W]e project this to bring us to a position where the revenues will cover the expenditures, but at this time, we cannot give definitive projections on the extent to which revenues will exceed expenditures," notes the administration's statement recommending the School Committee approve the cost hike. "Any revenues that exceed expenditures will begin to build up our fund balance again for equipment and other needs for sustainability of the program."

Curiously, those rates mostly seem to be lower than the usual cost of providing such meals nationwide.

According to Choices Magazine's Fall 2009 issue online, the April 2008 federal School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study "estimated that the national mean cost to provide a school lunch was $2.28 in the 2005-06 school year, which was less than the federal reimbursement per free lunch of $2.51 that year." But that September, the School Nutrition Association looked at the 2008-9 school year and "estimated that median costs had risen to $2.92 while the federal reimbursement per free lunch had risen only to $2.78," the article by Parke Wilde and Mary Kennedy states.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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