Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando students facing higher prices for school lunches

BROOKSVILLE — School lunch prices will increase next year, but it's up to the Hernando County School Board to decide by how much.

The board on Tuesday will consider two options for raising the prices to ensure the district is in compliance with federal law. The law requires districts to charge enough that the revenue from students who pay for their lunches is enough to cover the expense to provide those meals. Federal dollars received for the free and reduced-price meal program cannot subsidize the cost of meals for students who pay full price, said food and nutrition services director Lori Drenth.

To comply with the law, Drenth said, the Hernando district must raise elementary lunch prices by 30 cents, to $2, and the high school lunch price by a quarter, to $2.25.

One option is to increase the prices by the full amount right away, effective next school year.

The district doesn't have to do it that way, though. The law gives districts that are not in compliance the option to get there gradually by raising prices by a minimum of 10 cents each year.

The second option Drenth will present to the board is to raise the prices incrementally over the next three years.

The elementary lunch prices would rise by 10 cents each year, reaching $2 by the 2014-15 school year. The high school rates would increase by 10 cents over the next two years and then by a nickel in 2014-15.

The obvious benefit of the second option is to soften the blow to family budgets, Drenth said.

"You can do the slow, steady increase, and the other option is to rip the Band-Aid off and get us to where we need to be quickly," she said.

Both options include a two-tier high school lunch pricing system that would start in 2014-15. Students would pay $2.25 for the standard fare, or $2.50 for premium entrees that cost the district more to provide. These might include some pizzas, chicken breast and vegetarian items such as hummus and a spicy black bean burger.

The price increases would affect thousands of families.

Of the district's roughly 22,500 students, about 8,300 are currently not eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, Drenth said. Of those, about 6,200, or 75 percent, purchase meals.

Those numbers constantly fluctuate, but Drenth said she is fairly confident that the prices reached in 2014-15 would keep the district in compliance with the federal law for some time.

"That will give us some breathing room and give us the opportunity to keep it static for a while," she said.

Drenth's department budget is about $10 million, the bulk of the revenue coming from federal sources. Roughly 94 percent of the budget goes to food, employee salaries and benefits. The rest goes to pay for various supplies and to reimburse the district for associated costs, from electric bills to trash bins.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@tampabay.com.

Hernando students facing higher prices for school lunches 05/10/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 7:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Wednesday, June 28

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    St. Petersburg will finally break ground today on its long-awaited downtown Pier. [City of  St. Petersburg]
  2. USF's 'Black Pulp!' and 'Woke!' exhibits reframe African-American representation

    Visual Arts

    The concept of being "woke" is inextricably woven into the zeitgeist. To be truly woke, you have to be aware of not only current social injustices, but also the historical fight against prejudice.

    Renee Cox’s Chillin with Liberty (1998) is part of the “Black Pulp!” exhibition at the University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum.
  3. Carlton: Downtown's new "Water Street" district? As Tampa as devil crab

    Economic Development

    Tampa, a place busy reinventing itself, is not exactly known for its streets. At least not in a good way.

    CAPTION: (10/30/06 - TAMPA): (1)  St. Petersburg Times columnist Sue Carlton. New sig photo. KEN HELLE | Times SUMMARY: New sig photo for columnist Sue Carlton.  1 of 1 CAPTION: (10/30/06 - TAMPA): (1)  St. Petersburg Times columnist Sue Carlton. New sig photo. KEN HELLE | Times SUMMARY: New sig photo for columnist Sue Carlton.  1 of 1 CAPTION: (10/30/06 - TAMPA): (1)  St. Petersburg Times columnist Sue Carlton. New sig photo. KEN HELLE | Times SUMMARY: New sig photo for columnist Sue Carlton.  1 of 1 CAPTION: (10/30/06 - TAMPA): (1)  St. Petersburg Times columnist Sue Carlton. New sig photo. KEN HELLE | Times SUMMARY: New sig photo for columnist Sue Carlton.
  4. It took a decade, but groundbreaking for St. Petersburg's new pier is finally here

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The day that the city has long awaited — and some long fought — will finally arrive Wednesday: the groundbreaking ceremony for the new pier.

    This architectural rendering shows what the new St. Petersburg Pier District will look like when it's set to be completed in 2019. The groundbreaking will start at 9 a.m. Wednesday. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  5. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,