School Lunch Prices Rise

Published 3:02 pm Thursday, August 7, 2014

CUMBERLAND — Lunch prices are going up again for Cumberland public school children. When classes start on Monday, lunches will cost $1.75, five cents more than they did last year. For students that pay full price, that is.

In fact, less than 40 percent of students at Cumberland schools will be impacted, because the majority of students don’t pay full price.

Last school year, just over 60 percent of all Cumberland students were eligible for free lunches, according to a report by the Virginia Department of Education. Another six percent were eligible for reduced-price lunches.

Email newsletter signup

Free lunches are available to children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. Reduced lunches, which cost 40 cents, are available to children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level.

“The price increase was needed based on the amount paid for full-price lunch to become more aligned with the federal reimbursement amount received for ‘free’ lunches,” explained Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Dr. Chip Jones in an email to The Herald Tuesday afternoon. The federal reimbursement rate for “free” lunches is determined each year by the federal government, he explained.

“Also, we are anticipating an increase in the cost of food and supplies needed for the food service department,” stated Dr. Jones in his explanation.

Last year, the school board began the process of raising the price of school lunches in order to match the minimum amount required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The law’s rationale is that schools need to provide a similar level of support for lunches served to students who pay full price as they receive in reimbursement for free lunches from the federal government.

At that time, Jones told the board that the federal government is recommending that schools below the minimum requirement gradually raise their lunch price each year to meet it.

According to the law, the maximum amount schools are required to raise their rates is ten cents a year; however, they can raise the rate by more than that amount.

This year the law required the division increase its full lunch price if it was less than $2.65. A final deadline to meet the minimum price requirement has not been established by the federal government.

The Cumberland School Board approved the increase without any discussion or explanation during their July 14 meeting. Repeating last year’s vote to increase school lunch prices, George Lee Dowdy, District Two, was opposed. The remaining four board members voted in favor.

The full meal pricing approved is listed below:

Breakfast: Full Price ($1), Reduced ($.30), Adult ($1.50)

Lunch: Full Price ($1.75), Reduced ($.40), Adult ($3).