The Goose Creek board voted to increase the cost of school lunches for secondary students by 5 cents Monday night.
Natalie Edwards, the district’s food services director, wrote in a memo the School Food Authorities review paid lunch revenues yearly to make certain everything is in compliance with its requirement for paid lunch equality. She further stated the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the weighted average lunch price is $3. In order to be compliant with USDA regulations, Edwards recommended a 5-cent increase for all secondary students. Elementary students considered full-paid will still pay $1.90 for lunch while the secondary students will pay $2.15 for lunch.
The district will continue its policy of offering free breakfast and after-school meals to all Goose Creek students regardless of their ability to pay.
Trustee Ben Pape asked if the district has a universal free breakfast program, why doesn’t it have a free lunch program as well.
“We are not eligible for all students to eat free at lunch,” Edwards said. “Our Free and Reduced (students) are not high enough to be certified from the state, but we still feed all students free for breakfast, and after-school meals are free. And because we are in the positive for food service, we have wiped out all student outstanding food balances from last year. All students start with a clean plate (on the first day of school).”
Trustee Jessica Woods asked Edwards about the increase.
“If we are in the black and can wipe away all student debt, why is there a need to increase the lunch to 5 cents,” Woods asked.
Edwards said they are looking at full meal costs and incremental increases.
“We haven’t increased in a couple of years, and the national average is $2.85, and we are well below that,” Edwards said. “So, if we increase it every so often, and if we are ever in a financial crunch, we don’t have to go all the way up to the $2.85.”
The school board last approved a meal cost increase for the 2016-2017 school year by 10 cents, according to Susan Passmore, Goose Creek CISD spokeswoman.