Thursday, May 19, 2011

Higher Prices for School Lunch?

With the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, you may have noticed quite a few news articles about the price of lunch increasing. That is because the bill mandates that the price of student lunches gradually be brought up to the National School Lunch Program's reimbursement rate for free lunches - which is currently $2.72.

Effective July 1, 2011, Section 205 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program to gradually increase paid meal prices to equal the USDA reimbursement for a free student meal or provide non-federal funding to cover the difference. The USDA requires a minimum increase of 5 cents for the 2011-2012 school year.

This will be a big change. Most schools are still charging $1.50 - $2.00 per lunch. Parents will have to get used to the idea of school lunch costing more. Over the next five years, schools will be continually raising lunch prices until they reach the reimbursement rate.

The idea behind raising the reimbursement rate is to allow for higher quality, healthier foods to be served in schools. The bill also mandates that school lunch programs be non-profit. Hopefully, as schools increase the revenue brought in from lunch, they will also increase the quality of lunches.

Organic Fresh Fingers is ahead of the curve. Although our lunches cost more per meal than most schools currently charge, we use that extra money to provide fresh, local, natural and organic food to children. One of our biggest barriers is convincing school officials that parents will pay more for lunch if the quality of the lunch improves. As schools around the country raise their rates, we hope that more schools will consider Organic Fresh Fingers as an option.

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