School sets new prices for breakfast, lunch
Increases range from 5 cents to 25 cents
Some students and teachers will see a slight increase in breakfast and lunch prices this year at Cassville's elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools.
The increases are in increments of 5 cents, 10 cents or 25 cents, and Richard Asbill, superintendent, said prices had to go up to meet state and federal guidelines.
"There is a price adjustment calculator that is provided by the state and federal government to school districts," Asbill said. "The adjustor evaluates how many breakfasts and lunches you have served each month, what you collect in state and federal subsidies, and they evaluate your program and non-program revenue and expenditures for food services.
"Based on that, each school is evaluated on what they refer to as a required price increase calculation. It's based on all of your buildings combined. The board is required to set the prices. If the price calculator indicates you are required to make a price increase, and you don't, they offset that in the revenue that the school gets. In other words, the school won't get the food service reimbursement we're supposed to get."
Breakfast prices saw no change at the elementary and intermediate schools, but increased from $1 to $1.25 at the middle and high schools.
Lunch prices rose at all of the four schools, going from $1.70 to $1.75 at the elementary and intermediate schools, from $1.75 to $1.85 at the middle school and from $2.00 to $2.10 at the high school. The afternoon milk price also increased from 35 cents to 40 cents at all schools.
Breakfast prices for adults went from $1.25 to $1.50, and the adult lunch price was raised from $2.25 to $2.50.
According to Asbill, the district evaluates meals at each building level, along with the importance of younger students especially having access to breakfast.
"Our board tries to evaluate what we can do to affordably provide a healthy meal option to that age group at the lowest prices we can," he said. "Then, we evaluated our middle school and high school meal cost and participation and evaluated the cost piece to that, and had two adjustments that needed to be made there based on our cost and the meals that were being consumed and produced as far as meal cost.
"And, we do the same for lunch that we do for breakfast, only you'll see that we have, for lunch, tried to make equitable increases across the board so it stays a similar price structure so you're not moving from one building to another with a huge price increase. For instance, there's a 10-cent jump between the middle school and high school, so we try to evaluate all these buildings together.
Adult meals are considered non-program expenditures and revenues.
"When we produce a breakfast, any school will use commodities at certain times, to make that breakfast," Asbill said. "A grain or a chicken or ham as a government commodity is going in to make a meal. When adults purchase that meal, we're using a commodity to keep that meal cost low. So, the calculator allows us an opportunity to evaluate if too much of our food commodity is being used to offset meal costs.
"So, we're raising our adult prices 25 cents because we're not trying to provide our adults a low-cost meal based on our commodities and non-program revenue. We'll be raising this year and next year for non-program meals. Even at $2.50, you still have access to a pretty economical meal in comparison if you were to go to a McDonald's and buy a lunch or breakfast.
Asbill said the issue is the district has access to meals and is providing them, but cannot use its commodities to offset meals for teachers and other adults who come and eat.
"But, to keep our food costs for students as low as possible, which is our main goal, we have to increase our adult prices because we have to generate certain levels of non-program revenue," he said. "If that percentage is not balanced, we need to generate additional revenue so that we're being equitable in that evaluation of food costs."
Asbill said each district is different, as Cassville may have higher or lower food costs than other districts.
"It's about participation, too," he said. "Some districts are smaller, some are larger. It's based on each school district's demographic."
Parents, grandparents and guardians may also complete a form for free and reduced lunches at the beginning of the school year. Asbill encourages parents to apply.
"Fill out the form," he said. "They'll go out next week to parents. Income guidelines are on the form. Don't assume you don't qualify. That's what these programs are established for, to provide children with free or reduced meals, and in this case, trying to do it twice a day, for breakfast and lunch."