Families in many Georgia schools will pay a bit more for school lunches beginning next school year. New federal regulations are forcing school districts across the state to raise school lunch prices by between a nickel and a quarter.
Federal officials say funds meant to pay for free and reduced price lunch for impoverished students are instead sometimes used to lower the price of lunches for all students. So beginning next year, they’re requiring districts to charge at least a nickel more to students who pay the full price for lunch.
But Peggy Lawrence, the Director of School Nutrition at Rockdale County Schools, worries that even a small bump in the price will make school lunch too expensive for some students. Lawrence is especially worried about families on the border line of eligibility for reduced-price lunches.
"Even now, before we’ve had to increase prices, I’ve had moms say to me, 'Well, my child would love to eat every day, but I only let him eat three days a week. That’s all we can afford,'" Lawrence says.
Next week, Rockdale County’s school board will vote on a plan to increase middle school lunch prices by 15 cents, to two dollars per meal. Muscogee County schools will charge an extra dime for its school lunches. Floyd County plans to raise its meal prices by 20 cents. And in Clarke County, elementary schools will charge 15 cents more for lunch, middle schools will charge 20 cents more, and high schools will charge a quarter more.
Other districts, including Richmond County and Savannah-Chatham County, are still working to finalize next year’s prices.