Harford school lunch prices to increase next year

The cost of prepaid lunch will hit the $2 mark for both elementary and secondary students in Harford County Public Schools next year.

The prepaid school lunch price is set to increase 10 cents during the 2014-2015 school year to $2 for elementary and $2.10 for secondary schools, according to school officials. The price of reduced lunch for eligible students will remain at 40 cents next school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services James M. Jewell said the increase is based on a federal mandate from the Food Nutrition Act which sets prices.

Under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the federal government provides money to states to assist in purchasing food under the National School Lunch Program.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the National School Lunch Program's basic reimbursement rates are $2.93 for free lunches, $2.53 for reduced price lunches and 28 cents for paid lunches, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 37,921 Harford students participated in the school lunch program during the 2013-2014 school year, receiving either free, reduced or paid lunch. Of the total, 11,547 students, or 30.45 percent, received free or reduced price lunches.

Lunch prices for Harford County Public Schools students will continue to increase in small increments until they meet the federal guidelines, Jewell said during a Board of Education meeting April 28.

"I'm recommending a small increase as long as we can keep prices low," Jewell said.

There have been no increases to lunch prices for public school students since the 2011-2012 school year, according to school system spokeswoman Jillian Lader. That year, elementary and secondary school lunch increased 20 cents from $1.70 and $1.80 to their current prices of $1.90 and $2.

The increase comes as the price of milk and other commodities begins to rise, according to information Jewell's office furnished school board members.

The cost of breakfast will remain the same next year: $1.05 full price for elementary and secondary schools and 20 cents for reduced breakfast for elementary and secondary schools.

This story is updated with a correction from an earlier version to reflect next year's secondary school lunch price will be 2.10.

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