District 16 discusses lunch price increases

Spring Lake Park School District 16 plans to ask for an increase in student lunch prices for the next school year.

District 16 plans to ask the School Board to increase lunch prices by 10 cents for the next school year. Prices were last increased in the 2008-09 school year.File photo
District 16 plans to ask the School Board to increase lunch prices by 10 cents for the next school year. Prices were last increased in the 2008-09 school year.File photo

Business manager Amy Schultz during a discussion item on nutrition services lunch pricing at a May 28 board work session said the proposal to hike lunch prices by 10 cents will go before the board for a vote at its next meeting.

District lunch prices were last increased by 15 cents in the 2008-09 school year.

As of last year, school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program are required “to ensure sufficient funds are provided to the nonprofit school food service account for lunches served to students not certified eligible for free or reduced price meals,” according to language from the NSL’s Program: School Food Service Account Revenue Amendments Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The increase would “ensure we bring in enough revenue from our paid lunches to support expenses related to those lunches, without using federal funds intended to reimburse the district for free or reduced lunches to support paid lunches,” Schultz said in an email.

The change would mean an increase in District 16’s elementary school lunch prices from $2.25 to $2.35. High school lunches would increase from $2.45 to $2.55.

In determining costs, District 16 looked at neighboring districts and found Anoka-Hennepin School District lunches are from 15 cents to 20 cents less than District 16’s, but AHSD is proposing an increase for next year, Schultz said. Centennial School District now charges 15 cents more than District 16, she said.

Demographically speaking, North St. Paul, Bloomington and St. Louis Park school districts now charge more than District 16’s meal prices, Schultz said.

St. Louis Park charges $2.50 for an elementary lunch and $2.75 for a high school lunch; Bloomington Schools charge $2.45 and $2.75 respectively, while North St. Paul School District charges $2.45 for its elementary lunches and $2.70 for its high school lunches, according to the schools’ websites.

“With our increase, we would still be below each of those districts,” Schults said in the email.

Schultz said that compared to neighboring and similar districts, District 16 is at the lower end of average for lunch prices, “so this will kind of keep us again at the lower end of average,” she said about the proposed lunch increase.

The increase would bring about $31,000 into the district’s food services fund, Schultz said.

The increase in revenue would go toward the payment of Chef Marshall O’Brien’s healthy foods program. O’Brien began partnering with the district last year to improve its lunch program and to work with the nutrition staff to create new, tasty menu items.

The additional revenue would also help fund the district’s move to making more from-scratch cooking and add a few additional food service staff hours for Park Terrace next year, Schultz said.

Next school year Park Terrace’s student enrollment will increase with the transitioning of Woodcrest Elementary students to Park Terrace Elementary, to make way for a Spanish Immersion school at Woodcrest. Park Terrace is now undergoing construction, adding 10 classrooms to the school along with a cafeteria expansion.

The vote to increase school lunch prices is slated to come before the board at its June 11 regular school board meeting.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com