St. John school lunch prices increasing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Public school students in St. John the Baptist Parish will be paying a little more for school lunches when they return to school in the fall.

At Thursday’s meeting, the St. John School Board approved a request from Director of Child Nutrition Lorraine Jackson to increase the prices for those students paying full price for the meals. Middle and high school students will now pay $1.60, up from $1.35, and elementary school students will now pay $1.50, up from $1.25.

Students who pay the reduced lunch price will still pay 40 cents.

Breakfast prices will also increase 25 cents across the board.

Jackson said the price increase was necessary to cover inflated food prices, which have risen an average of 27 percent over last year, as well as to cover a disparity in the amount the federal government subsidizes for students on the free and reduced lunch program. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates school districts lessen that disparity by July 1 or face the possibility of losing the subsidy.

The government currently pays $2.46 per lunch per student on the free and reduced lunch program.

“If we don’t raise the price, we are going to incur a large gap between students who pay for lunch and those who receive free and reduced lunches,” said Jackson. “It’s the law that we close the gap.”

Jackson also noted, “Our meals are the lowest of all the surrounding parishes at this time.”

According to Jackson, the price increase will affect 791 students.

Before approving the increase, board member Albert Burl III moved to table the matter so he could look into the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a little more, but that motion was defeated.

Board member Gerald Keller noted the district has been very generous with the community in the past.

“I think it’s time to pass it on,” he said.

The board also accepted a bid from Capital One Bank to be the district’s fiscal agent for the upcoming school year.

Only two banks bid on the matter, Capital One and Chase, and the decision to go with Capital One was due in large part to its presence on the west bank.

“It’s not a requirement, but it’s a preference,” said Purchasing Agent Peter Montz.

He said choosing Capital One would lessen the burden on the two west bank schools, which have to deposit the money collected from events such as football games the same day it is collected.

Policy states schools are not to store cash collected at such events on the premises overnight.