COLUMBIA — School lunches in Columbia Public Schools will go up 25 cents this year because of rising food, fuel and equipment costs.
Laina Fullum, nutrition services director for the district, said the increase affects standard school lunches. The cost of foods bought a la carte, available at the secondary level, will likely go up, too, depending on the item.
What daily costs used to be
What costs will be this year
"We realize that, unfortunately, this may tax some households," Fullum said, "and we encourage them to apply (for free and reduced lunch)." Applications are available at a number of locations in the community, including schools, Super Wal-Mart, the district's headquarters at 1818 W. Worley St. and through the district's Web site, columbia.k12.mo.us.
The city's public schools resume classwork Aug. 21.
Breakfast remains the same price at $1 for elementary and secondary students and $1.35 for adults.
In Columbia, Fullum said, it's not only food prices and soaring fuel costs affecting the cafeteria but also a price change in equipment needed to cook the food. Anytime a school needs new food-preparation equipment, it comes out of the nutrition services' budget.
"What people don't know is that food services are self-supporting," Fullum said. "We don't use the general revenue to pay for things."
She said the old equipment will be used as much as possible but will eventually need to be replaced.
"When it's broke, it's broke and we'll need new equipment," Fullum said. "It's a necessity that we be able to cook and serve lunch every day."
Food prices are rising because of poor crop yields, increased use of corn for fuel and the cost of transporting food across the country, The Associated Press reported this week.
This has prompted school cafeterias to come up with more cost-efficient ways to provide meals; Two measures being taken by the St. Louis School District are cutting down on portions being served to help with expenses and students' nutritional needs and using local foods to cut down on shipping costs.