Highland News Leader

Highland School District lunch prices to increase by 10 cents

Highland Community School District 5 students will pay more for their school lunch for the next school year.

The School Board approved a 10-cent price increase for lunch at its meeting Monday night.

Starting this fall, the maximum cost will be $2.50 for lunch at Highland High School, and $2.40 at the primary, elementary and middle schools.

But there will be no change in the district’s breakfast costs.

Currently, a student breakfast costs $1.35 at the high school, and $1.25 at the primary, elementary and middle schools.

The changes in the lunch prices are all part of 2010 Health Hunger-Free Kids Act, District Business Manager Tim Bair said. Improving child nutrition is the focal point of this act. The legislation authorizes funding and sets policy for USDA’s core child nutrition programs: the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act allows USDA, for the first time in more than 30 years, to make reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs.

Under this program, the federal government reimburses the Highland school district $2.98 for each free lunch they served last school year.

They also reimburse the district 28 cents for each paid lunch served.

This will be the second rate hike to the district’s lunches in as many years.

The School Board also raised the lunch prices by 10 cents a year ago, the maximum the district can raise the meals in any given year, Bair said.

The district is now trying to mitigate its lunch prices with the federal government, who believe the district should be charging $2.70 for each lunch meal, he said.

Bair expects the district will have to continue raising their lunch prices as they try to hit the federal government’s “moving target.”

Last August, the Highland School District, on average, served 829 paid lunches, 71 reduced lunches and 581 free lunches daily, he said.

There are about 3,000 students in the district.

Board member Robert Miller hesitated before he approved the rate hike. He believes this is just another “strong-arm” attempt by the federal government to control a local government entity.

“So much for local control,” he said.

Miller also has a problem with so much of the food, which is now required to be served in a school cafeteria, going to waste.

But the latest price increase has nothing to do with the district’s lunch menu, Bair said.

He said the district was already meeting the new USDA lunch requirements last year.

According to these new standards, all food served in a school cafeteria:

▪ Must be trans-fat free.

▪ School districts are also required to change serving sizes based on grade.

▪ Fruit and vegetable servings have a minimum but no maximum, and also must serve a variety of colors and types during the course of a week.

▪ Appropriate serving sizes are defined by grade groupings, K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

For the meat/meat alternate grains and milk, there is a minimum and a maximum serving size for each grade grouping.

The serving sizes for fruits and vegetables provides a minimum but no maximum, so children are able to have larger servings of the nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

The choices for milk include fat-free or low fat milk. Any flavored milk that may be offered must be fat-free.

There are calorie minimums and maximums as well, this allows for the lunch meal to account for approximately 1/3 of the recommended calories for each grade grouping.

▪ A variety of vegetables must be served. To assist schools in meeting this requirement, they must serve a variety of different colors and types of vegetables over the week: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and other.

In other news from Monday’s meeting

▪ Jami Jansen was hired as a secretary at Highland High School. Jansen had most recently been employed as the executive director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce. She will be replacing Tina Bradley, who is retiring effective June 30.

▪ The School Board approved all of the district’s coaching/sponsors for the 2016-16 school year, with the exception of the boys basketball program. Board member Duane Clarke said he is waiting for an undisclosed report about the basketball program.

Clarke said on Tuesday: “There is a volunteer coach who helped last year. I was originally told he was not able to help this year and he was not on the list to be approved last night.

“It is my understanding that he wants to and he should be on the list if that is the case. He volunteered a lot of time, and we need more people like that.”