During its monthly meeting, Clay Community School (CCS) Board members voted in favor of raising school lunch prices by 10 cents.
"I hate to raise the lunches, but the price of food is going up everywhere," Board Vice President Tina Heffner told The Brazil Times. "You can see it when you walk in the local grocery store."
Amy Burke Adams made a motion to approve the increase, and Heffner gave the second.
The motion was approved with a 6-1 vote, with board member Ron Scherb in opposition.
"My problem with the price increase is the effect it will have on the parents, students and families in the community who don't have free and reduced lunch," Scherb said. "It's just another thing that adds to their burden."
The increase brings school lunches for elementary and secondary students to $2.15 and $2.25, respectively.
Mathematically, this adds up to roughly an $18 increase for each child for the school year, if a child eats school lunch every school day for 180 days.
According to the board packet, "The increase is due to a slight decrease in the food service account balance and an increase in food prices."
CCS officials distributed a survey to eleven area schools to determine the average lunch prices for surrounding areas.
The results showed the average cost for elementary lunches was $2.17 and the average secondary lunch price was $2.29.
Heffner said she wants to encourage parents in the community to apply for financial assistance regardless of their beliefs about their eligibility.
She added some who do not believe they will qualify for assistance are awarded aid.
"The school will get more money from the state for more students receiving assistance," Heffner explained. "We provide an assistance application to everyone in their inventory packets, and with the economy like it is, there are more people who need assistance. It's not a shameful thing."
Heffner later explained the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reimburses schools at a higher price than what the schools pay for lunches, and when a student qualifies for free lunch, the school gets more than what a student who isn't receiving assistance pays.
"We are not in control of the USDA federal program. The rules are made at the state and federal levesl," Heffner explained. "The schools can't do anything about it. If people want to see a change in that program, they need to get in contact with their congressman and other legislators."
In addition, Data and Food Service Director Carolyn Kumpf recommended a gradual price increase to meet the federally reimbursable level, which is $2.46.
According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Website, the guidelines for qualifying for free and reduced lunch in Indiana are:
* Two person household- at or below $14,710,
* Three person household- at or below $18, 530,
* Four person household- at or below $22,350,
* Five person household- at or below $26,170,
* Six person household- at or below $29,990,
* Seven person household- at or below $33,810,
* Eight person household- at or below $37,630, and
* For each additional family member, add $3,820 to the previous number.
For more information about the income eligibility guidelines, visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/n... or contact the local schools.