2016-02-12 / Schools

Price of school lunches to increase by 25 cents next year

Higher food costs and the need to adjust menus to meet new federal nutrition standards are the reasons why student lunches in the Simi Valley Unified School District will cost a quarter more next year, officials said this week.

Approved unanimously by the Simi Valley school board Tuesday, the 25-cent increase will take effect in the 2016-17 school year.

Lunch prices will increase from $2.50 to $2.75 for elementary school students and from $3 to $3.25 for middle and high school students.

The quarter hike is expected to bring in about $125,000 annually in additional revenue for the food services department, said Ron Todo, assistant superintendent of business and financial services.

The extra revenue is meant to cover higher food and labor costs and changes in school lunch menus brought about by the federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Todo said.

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, the act required that all food sold at schools meet nutritional standards for sodium content. Schools must also serve at least one vegetable or fruit with every meal, among other requirements.

SVUSD food workers continue to adjust recipes and menus this year to meet the new requirements and provide healthy and enjoyable meals for the district’s students, said Patrice Parr, the district’s food services director

“Food prices have gone up,” she said.

Even with the increases taking effect next year, lunch prices in Simi Valley Unified will remain among the lowest in the East County, Todo said.

Middle and high school students in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, for example, pay $4.50 for lunch, while upper-grade students in the Moorpark Unified School District pay $3.50, Todo said.

District staff requested the increase now to give SVUSD sufficient time to advise parents about the change next year, he said.

Hector Gonzalez

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