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School lunch prices to rise

By Keeli Parkey
Staff Writer
[email protected]
During a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, June 14, the Unicoi County Board of Education voted 4-0 to approve a 25-cent increase in the cost of school lunches for the upcoming school year.
Chairperson Renea Jones-Rogers and board members Garland “Bubba” Evely, Victor Price and Judy Webb voted in favor of the increase. Board members Rick Butler and Richard “Bo” Shadden were absent.
Prior to the vote, Maggie Fair, the school system’s supervisor of food service, told the board that one of the components of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is paid lunch equity.
“We have to raise our lunch prices where paying students equal what we receive from the [federal] government,” Fair added. “This is going to take place over three years. This is our second year.”
A 14-cent increase in the price of school lunch is needed to cover this, according to Fair.
In addition, the system went $22,000 over its food budget during the last school year. The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act also mandates that more fruits and vegetables be served as part of school meals. This mandate increases the system’s cost of providing meals.
“Also with some of the regulations that go along with his Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, we are going to be offering fruits at breakfast in one-cup servings. We are going to have to include more fruits and vegetables in lunch,” Fair also said.
“To meet calorie requirements, grain requirements and all these things we are going to have to offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
“If anybody’s been to the grocery store, you know that’s not one of the cheaper things to buy.”
A 25-cent increase in the cost of school lunch was requested to offset the costs incurred as a result of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.
To help ease the strain the increased lunch prices could have on the parents and guardians of the system’s students, Fair asked the board to lower the prices of a la carte selections for the middle school, intermediate school and the four elementary schools.
“We are not going to be able to do that the high school because there is no way to regulate whether the students buy a reimbursable meal,” Fair said.
For the remainder of this article please pick up the June 19, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.