Because of changes in federal policy, the price of school lunches in Hillsborough will be on the rise next year.
The voted Monday to increase the price of lunch in the elementary schools by 25 cents—12.5 percent—from $2 to $2.25 starting in September.
The price of a lunch at the intermediate and middle schools will increase 25 cents from $2.25 to $2.50, an 11 percent hike.
Lunch at the high school will rise 10 cents from $2.40 to $2.50, a 4 percent hike.
Kathy Major, general manager of the district’s school lunch program, told the Board of Education Monday night the price hike is prompted by a federal mandate that the district serve more fruit and vegetables under the terms of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA).
The legislation increases the amount of fruit, vegetables and whole grains in the school lunches, Major explained, while reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
In addition, only 1 percent or no-fat milk will be available, Major said.
In September, parents and students will start seeing items on the menu like kale, collard greens and spinach, Major said. All of the bread will be 100 percent whole grain. The amount of meat or meat alternatives will also be limited.
Presentations about the changes in the lunch program will be made in the fall at back-to-school nights and parent association meetings, she said.
“We ‘re going to need parental involvement,” Major said.
Information about the school lunch changes will also be posted on the school district’s website.
There are two reasons for the increase in prices, Major said.
The cost of lunches in Hillsborough is below the federal minimum, Major said.
Some school districts charge as much as $3.75, according to Board Member Greg Gillette, explaining the school district is not allowed to run the school lunch program “in the red."
Another reason for the higher cost, Major said, was the new federal standards require more fruits and vegetables.
“We don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” Major said.
The school board also approved the second year renewal of a contract with Sodexo Management to run the lunch program.
Under the terms of the contract, the school district will pay Sodexo 15 cents per meal for the 2012-13 school year.
The agreement calls for Sodexo to pay the school district $147,000 from the food service program and $12,191 from the vending program for the school year.
Sodexo, whose North American headquarters is in Gaithersburg, Md., has 125,000 employees in North America with annual revenue of $1 billion.
Worldwide, Sodexo has 391,000 employees in 80 countries, making it the 22nd largest employer on the planet. It serves 50 million customers every day.