School lunch prices will rise 25 cents
All meal services will bear the brunt of higher food expenses
The price of lunch for most public school students will go up by 25 cents on July 1 from $1 to $1.25, the Department of Education reported.
In addition, the DOE wants to raise the price of breakfast, reduced-price meals for low-income students and the price of lunch and breakfast for adults to pay for the increased cost of buying and preparing food, said Randolph Moore, acting assistant superintendent for the DOE's office of business services.
The proposal, unveiled at a Board of Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, would send the price of breakfast to 50 cents from 35 cents. Reduced-price breakfast, currently at 20 cents, would be set at 25 cents, while reduced-price lunches would double in cost, going from 20 cents to 40 cents.
The recommended changes would also add 50 cents to the $1 adult breakfast and increase the cost of the adult lunch from $3 to $4.
The proposals to raise the price of breakfast and meals for low-income students needs BOE approval, but schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto can act on her own to approve an increase in the price of the adult lunch and breakfast, Moore said, adding that Hamamoto has yet to make a decision.
The price of regular school lunches will rise automatically on July 1. That is because of an administrative rule that adjusts the price of school lunches at up to one-third of the cost of preparing the meals, rounded to the nearest 25 cents, at the beginning of each two-year budget cycle.
The last time the price of the school lunch went up was in July 2001, when it jumped from to $1 from 75 cents. Since then, salaries, electricity and food expenses have been on the rise, Moore said.
For the 2006-07 school year, the state estimates it will get $19.1 million in school meal revenue, but the DOE will spend $78.6 million to buy, prepare and distribute the food. The DOE relies on $16.1 million in state general funds and $43.4 million in federal reimbursements and other financial aid to make up the difference.
The requested price increases for school meals could bring the DOE about $3 million more a year.
School board member Mary Cochran said voting for the hikes would be a "daunting task."
At the support services committee meeting Wednesday, she asked the department to check if they could cut any other expenses to run the program, maybe by reducing the amount of food that goes to waste.
The DOE said it already has controls to keep leftover food to an acceptable level but that it would take a second look to find out if there were any areas where money could be saved.
PROPOSED SCHOOL MEAL PRICE INCREASES
|Reduced price breakfast
|Reduced price lunch
*New price will go into effect July 1.
Source: Hawaii Department of Education