Rising grocery prices and federal requirements to feed children more are leading to increases in the prices of school meals.
Parents of students at Edinburgh, Franklin and Clark-Pleasant schools will pay more for their children’s school meals in the fall. Two other school districts — Indian Creek and Greenwood — haven’t set prices yet. And at Center Grove schools, the prices will stay the same.
One of the main reasons for the increase in prices is due to changes in federal requirements, which specify how much and what type of food schools serve to students. Those rules have been changing in recent years, including adding requirements for more fruit and vegetables and whole grains.
Franklin Community Schools will charge $1.30 per meal for breakfast, 5 cents more than last year’s price. Clark-Pleasant is upping breakfast prices by 10 cents.
Federal requirements state that schools have to provide a full cup of fruit for breakfast, rather than a half-cup as in previous years. The school district had to raise prices to cover that added cost, said Jill Overton, Franklin Community Schools food service director. She said the district isn’t raising lunch prices because current lunch prices cover lunch costs.
“I plan meals so that we break even,” she said.
Indian Creek schools also plans to raise prices, but the school board hasn’t approved any increases yet.
Food service director Carol Schaaf plans to ask the school board to allow her department to increase the prices of middle school and high school student meals. The cafeteria is required to serve those students more food, so she wants the prices to be higher to cover the additional food, Schaaf said.
Grocery prices are also going up, with milk costing the schools 10 cents more per carton this fall than last year, she said.
The federal government pushes schools to charge as much for paid meals as the districts are reimbursed for students whose family income is low enough to meet requirements for the free- and reduced-price meal program. School districts can choose not to increase prices rapidly but are expected to charge more every year, Overton said.
Some school districts apply for waivers so they don’t have to charge more for meals, said Shannon Nesius, director of food and nutrition services for Center Grove Community School Corp.
This year, Center Grove schools used the waiver. But next year, the school district likely will tack on an additional 5 cents per meal to keep up with costs, she said.
Some local school districts have set higher prices or are considering increasing meal prices for the next school year. Here’s a look at what prices will be in the fall:
prices stayed the same as last school year
Elementary schools: $2.15
Middle and high schools: $2.30
breakfast prices increased, lunch stayed the same
Grades K-4: $2.20
Grades 5-12: $2.30
breakfast and lunch prices increased
Middle school/high school
breakfast prices increased, lunch prices stayed the same
Elementary schools: $2.25
Intermediate through high school: $2.35
Indian Creek schools
Prices not yet decided