Students will pay more for lunch


POSTED: Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tens of thousands of Hawaii public school students will be paying 76 percent more for their lunches starting Jan. 1.

The state Board of Education has approved an increase to $2.20 from $1.25 cents a lunch.

The increase follows the passage of a state law this year requiring the charging of a meal price that is at least 50 percent of the cost of preparing the meal.

State lawmakers hope the change will help defray part of an expected $5 million to $6 million deficit in the meals program.

“;It's not something that any of us look forward to,”; board Chairman Garrett Toguchi said. “;The increase is so drastic.”;

Toguchi said he would have preferred incrementally increasing the prices of meals.

He said at the same time, he realizes that the meal prices are lower than at many public schools in other states.

Toguchi said he feels the state has to develop a better system for reducing food waste in the public schools.

State board member Breene Harimoto said the board felt compelled to raise the prices to comply with the state law.

“;It hurts to raise meal prices, but it's just something that needs to be done,”; Harimoto said.





        Lunches for students at Hawaii public schools will increase as follows, effective Jan. 1:

» Breakfast (full student price): 95 cents from 35 cents


» Breakfast (reduced price to students with financial hardship): 30 cents from 20 cents


» Lunch (full student price): $2.20 from $1.25


» Lunch (reduced price to students with financial hardship): 40 cents from 20 cents




The vote Thursday night was 9-2. John Penebacker and Karen Knudsen dissented.

Knudsen said she wants too see proof that the cost of the lunches is $4.40 and raised questions about the efficiency of making the lunches.

The state Department of Education serves some 100,000 meals daily including breakfast and lunch, out of some 170,500 public school students enrolled statewide.

A little more than 51,500 pay the full price, while more than 44,300 students receive meals free or at a discount, according to state education officials.

Some of these students eat breakfast and lunch.

School officials expect the number of free and subsidized meals to increase, due to the slow economy.

In the past, the taxpayers paid for the deficit, but now there is not enough money in the state general fund, school officials said.

Qualified students may receive a free breakfast and lunch under a program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.