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Newton students facing lunch price increases

COVINGTON – Students in the Newton County School System may be facing an increase in lunch prices, based on a discussion at the Newton County Board of Education work session this week.

In a memo to the board, Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey recommended on Tuesday the approval of a 10-cent student lunch price increase for all paid students for the next fiscal year.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Paid Lunch Equity calculator, Newton elementary lunch prices would increase from $1.60 to $1.70, while secondary lunches will jump from $1.85 to $1.95, and adult lunch prices will remain $3.

Free and reduced-price lunches will not be affected by the price increases. For each paid lunch that NCSS serves, a reimbursement of approximately $2.99 is made, and the school system is reimbursed 27 cents for each free lunch that is served, said NCSS Director of Operations Jan Loomans.

“Those are reimbursement rates that are set by Congress,” Loomans said at the work session. “The goal of (the superintendent’s) memo is for us to eventually reach the level of reimbursement for free lunch that the paid students will be paying that price as well.”

Loomans went on to add, “Paid lunch is subsidized by the school nutrition program. And the reduced-price meals, the price that we can charge for lunch for reduced-price, is 40 cents, and that is set by USDA.”

Based on requirements from the federal government, NCSS plans over the next seven years to increase paid lunch prices to $2.73, Loomans said. This figure is calculated by taking the $2.99 paid lunch reimbursement, and then subtracting the 27 cents reimbursement for each free lunch.

For adult meal prices, the USDA requires prices to be set at the total actual cost of the meal plus the value of the USDA food received by the district.

Despite the increases in lunch prices, NCSS student meal prices remain below many nearby school districts that have similar menus. NCSS has announced that there will be no change to breakfast prices.

The board will vote on the price increases at its regular session on March 18.