Healthier School Meals Come at a Higher Price
Students will pay 50 cents more for lunch and 25 cents more for breakfast at Cobb County schools beginning August 2012.
Students eating in Cobb County school cafeterias next year will see healthier meal options, but at a higher cost.
Beginning August 2012, paid student lunch prices will increase by 50 cents, breakfast by 25 cents. Adult staff meals will increase in price by 25 cents and adult guest meals will cost $3.25 and be categorized separately.
The price increase is a result of the United States Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires that school cafeteria serve more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and items with less sodium.
“These increased nutritional standards also significantly increase food costs to local school systems,” said the Cobb County School District. “Locally, cafeteria revenues are decreasing sharply due to the Act’s restrictions on food items allowed to be sold à la carte and an increase in the number of students bringing meals from home.”
The law also mandates what is called “paid meal price equity,” which means that prices will increase again in the future to equal the amount reimbursed by the federal government for free meals provided to students who qualify for the free or reduced lunch.
The price hike isn’t just because of the federal law. Cobb County School District’s health insurance employer contribution for food service employees will jump from $2.6 million to $4.3 million for the 2013 fiscal year. The contribution increase is expected to continue for two more years making Cobb County School District’s annual contribution $7 million by 2015.
Next year’s increase will be the first significant rise in price since 2002. Before the 2011-2012 school year lunch prices increased by five cents. According to the Cobb County School District, the 50 cent increase that takes effect in August 2012 makes Cobb school lunch prices comparable to those in Fulton and Gwinnett counties.