By using a tool called Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) Stacy Nelson, Amery School District’s Director of School Nutrition, was able to share her thoughts about next year’s school meal pricing with the Board of Education during May’s regular meeting.
PLE is a tool that is used to help ensure schools are not charging less for school meals than it costs to produce the meal. It also ensures that federal funds intended for free and reduced price lunches are not subsidizing paid student meals. It is helpful in making sure schools have funding available to support serving nutritious meals to all students.
Nelson said the tool determined the total price increase for the upcoming year should be .17, but it caps at an increase of .10. Nelson believes the higher increase is due to not increasing prices last year.
In Section 776 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress provides that only school food authorities (SFAs) that had a negative balance in the nonprofit school food service account shall be required to establish prices for paid lunches. SFAs with a positive or zero balance in its nonprofit school food service account is exempt from PLE requirements. Amery school nutrition balance was positive as of December 31, 2018.
Nelson’s final recommendation which was approved by the board left lunch pricing where it currently sits for the following: K-5, $2.70; 6-8, $2.95; 9-12, $3.00.
Changes made to pricing for the upcoming year will see a .20 increase in Pre-K lunches from $2.50 to $2.70. She said the Pre-K students have been receiving smaller portions, but it makes the most sense to keep all of the portions the same at Lien Elementary and charge the same price for all of the students in the building. Adult meals will be rising from $3.75 to $4.00. Milk prices will be increased from .35 to .40 a carton and an extra entrée taken will now cost $1.75 as opposed to $1.25.