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Columbia School Board considers 25-cent increase of school lunch prices

Monday, June 14, 2010 | 6:30 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – It has been two years since the price of school lunches at Columbia Public Schools increased.

Now, a proposal to increase school lunches by 25 cents for both students and adults is on the agenda for Monday night's board meeting, according to a report from Laina Fullum, director of nutrition services.

Past increases in lunch prices by school year

1989-90

10 cents

1990-91

15 cents

1996-97

10 cents for elementary students

15 cents for middle and high students

2003-04

15 cents for elementary

10 cents for middle and high students

2008-09

25 cents

Source: Columbia Public Schools.



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The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the district’s Administration Building located at 1818 W. Worley St.

Fullum said in her report to the board that the extra 25 cents should help keep up with the increase in costs of food and supplies, as well as other things such as labor and service fees.

Currently, it costs $2.44 to prepare a lunch. Elementary students are charged $1.75 and middle and high school students pay $2 per lunch.

Fullum said the price increase could help pay for the cost of the 2009-10 general food service costs, but it does not necessarily change the outlook for next year.

Historically, these changes have lasted three to four years, Fullum said. However, the way things are going now, she can’t predict how long this increase will last.

Expenses for the district’s meal services in the past year have included $331,869 for a move to a new warehouse and the purchase of a freezer, Fullum said.

Fullum said in an interview she is “not completely sure how this will go” at Monday's meeting. She said the community wants to see changes in the district’s lunch program.

Those changes — such as using less processed foods and investing in the community’s local produce — are going to be more expensive, Fullum said.

Superintendent Chris Belcher said he thinks the board will approve this increase.

He said it has been a few years since district has raised the price, and the district is doing it for the right reasons: to increase fresh and local produce.

“We can make a pretty strong case,” Belcher said.

Other things on Monday night's agenda include the consideration of:

  • high school site excavation and utilities bid.
  • sports management plan.
  • election of board secretary and treasurer.
  • the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budget.

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