School lunch prices to go up across ORR district

Aug 30, 2018

The price of lunch in all six of the Old Rochester Regional School District's schools will rise by 25 cents starting in January of 2019.

Old Rochester School District Business Administrator Patrick Spencer informed the Rochester School Committee at the board's Aug. 29 meeting that, under federal law, all of school districts are recommended to raise their school lunch prices. Old Rochester Director of Food Services Jill Henesey made the recommendation and Spencer made the announcement at the school committee's first meeting of the current school year.

Spencer explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set the new rate for what it calls "Paid Lunch Equity," a tool to help school officialss calculate lunch prices to be in compliance with the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010."

The new federal rate for school lunch is $2.92, putting the Old Rochester Regional School District below that price benchmark.

To stay in compliance with the federal law, the Old Rochester Regional School District would have to raise its school lunch prices across the board by 10 cents this year. However, Henesey and Spencer recommended that it be raised by 25 cents so that another price increase would not have to be enacted for another three to four years. Spencer said the last school lunch price increase occurred in 2014, when it was increased by 25 cents.

Presently, school lunch at the elementary schools is $2.75. Lunch at the junior and senior high schools is $3. Adult staff lunches are $1 more than students' lunch costs.

Henesey and Spencer recommended that the price increase go into effect in November, but several school committee members took issue with that.

"I just have a problem with the timing," Rounseville said. "I just wish we could start it in January."

Spencer said the school district could do it in January of 2019 and still be in compliance.

"It just has to be done before the end of the year," the district business administrator said.

Committee member Anne Fernandes asked if the price increase would also effect the cost of free and reduced cost lunches at the school. Spencer said it would not.

Spencer said he would present the same information to the other district school committees when the school administrators meet with those boards in September and October.