FORT KENT– At the most recent SAD 27 school board meeting, school board members voted to increase the cost of the school lunch program for students who pay in full in district schools. These students will pay 20 cents more per lunch.
Prices for breakfast and the reduced lunch program will remain the same and the free lunch program will continue, said SAD 27 Superintendent Tim Doak.
A federally-mandated formula determines the minimum cost of the lunch program. After calculating what the lunch program would the cost the school, administrators determined that prices needed to increase in the next school year by approximately ten cents.
Because the school required an additional five cent raise or so in lunch prices last year, said Doak, members voted to increase the price by 20 cents this year to give parents a break from small increases every year.
“We didn’t want to nickel and dime the parents to death,” said Doak.
He said that as a result, prices should remain stable for a few years.
Because the cost of lunches at each school takes into account the numbers of free and reduced lunch program participants, schools within the system will have different prices for their school’s lunches. In calculating the price increase, Doak said the board took into account an understanding that raising prices too much could discourage parents from having their children eat at school.
Doak said, “The lunch program is the only way schools are run like a business.”
Essentially, the schools need people to participate in the program in order for it to pay for itself. So, like a restaurant, the more people eat there, the better the school does financially.
“We serve more people per day than Rocks,” said Doak.
Doak said most school lunch programs operated “in the red.” Part of encouraging students and staff to eat at the school might be to make the cafeteria more inviting. Doak said he hopes to purchase round tables for cafeteria visitors in the future to help create this atmosphere.
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