COVINGTON -- Parents, you'll have to shell out a little more money to pay for your kids to eat at Newton County schools next year.
Forced by a mandate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Newton County Board of Education approved last week during its monthly meeting a request from the Newton County School System to increase current meal prices by between 10 cents and 25 cents next school year.
The price of elementary and secondary school lunches for students will increase 10 cents, and adult meals will increase 25 cents.
Currently, elementary students pay $1.50 for lunches, and middle and high school students pay $1.75 for lunches.
Adult meals currently cost $2.75. Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent at NCSS, said the adult meal increase isn't part of the mandate, but it is necessary because of rising costs of foods.
"It's still the best deal in town," he said.
The federal mandate, called the National School Lunch Program: School Food Service Account Revenue Amendments Related to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, requires that meal prices must increase to an amount equal to the federal reimbursement rate over the next nine years. The target price is $2.51.
The mandate was implemented last year, but NCSS opted not to increase prices until now. NCSS has not increased student meal prices since the 2005-06 school year.
"We've been trying to put it off," Carpenter told school board members earlier this month.