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School meal prices going up as lunchrooms remain self-sufficient

Non-resident students, finances, bus driver training,  among other subjects discussed

Above, the JMS Future Cities team receives reconition. Numerous other groups were also saluted by the board during their monthly meeting. See all the students who were honored on Page 14A of our print or e-edition.

School Nutrition Director Emily Hanlin presented to the board slightly higher student meal prices next year as the school cafeterias work to remain a self-sufficient operation. They are also under obligation to meet state requirements that will require a hike in the prices.

The cost increase which would only affect the average student $30 over an entire school year were approved by the board.

 

The increase will add 25 cents to school breakfasts and 20 cents to student lunches. For the 2012/2013 school year, the cafeterias will charge $1.25 for all breakfasts; $1.75 for lunches at elementary school and $2 for lunches at the middle and high schools. Teacher lunches will cost $2.75.

Hanlin said that Pickens maintains the lowest cafeteria prices of any nearby system. They increased prices five cents during the 2011-2012 school year.

"I was reluctant to do this. I know the hardship on the families, but I want to remain self sufficient," she said.

She said if a student ate in the school cafeteria every day of the school year both breakfast and lunch, the increase would add $63 in food expense over a year. However, few if any students eat every meal there every day and so the average increase would be closer to $30 per student per year.

Hanlin said last year the school cafeterias served more than 850,000 meals with 225,000 breakfasts, 625,000 lunches and 25,000 adult meals. This year expenses with food are expected to increase 3.5 percent following a 4.8 percent increase last year. The department will also have additional expense regarding state mandated employee benefits. Next year’s budget with the increases is projected at $2.2 million.

Hanlin said 45 percent of the expenditures in the cafeteria program are for the food but she doesn't want to make any cuts there. "If you cut the food costs, you will cut quality," she said.

The school cafeteria hasn't made any significant increases in costs in several years.

Board member John Trammell said over the seven years he has been on the board, the school cafeteria has consistently been a bright spot, especially considering no tax dollars are used to fund the operations.

 

Read more from the school board  in our print or e-edition.

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