The price that students and adults pay for lunches increased this year in Long County, according to school nutrition director Stephanie Fox.
She said the price increased by 5 cents, with pre-K through fifth-grade kids now paying $1.30 per meal and sixth- through 12th-grade students paying $1.55.
The increase was mandated by the federal government, Fox said, and the amount of the increase is the minimum required.
Currently, 68 percent of students in the school system receive free or reduced-price lunches, and 32 percent have to pay full price for their meals.
She said that last year, 73 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches. Fox expects this year’s figure to eventually surpass the 70-percent mark.
Though the increases for students’ lunches were modest, adult lunches increased by 30 cents. Last year’s price for a lunch was $2.75, but this year it is $3.05.
The price that adults pay for breakfast also increased, to $2.75.
Fox said that all students still receive their breakfast at no charge. She said that the adult rate had not increased since 2011, and because schools receive no reimbursement for these meals, the fee must cover the total plate cost.
Fox also said that as a part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Act established in 2010, national school-lunch policies were revised to better guarantee that children receive nutritionally sound lunches. These changes require that schools offer fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods and low-fat dairy products. They also require that meals have limited sodium, saturated fat and calories.
The new standards require that lunches have between 550-600 calories for elementary-school kids, 600-700 for middle-school students and 750-800 calories for high-school students.
"Complying with the new meal standards continues to be a challenge to win over students since the new guidelines were put in place, but I think we are making great strides," Fox said.
She said schools are working hard to comply with the new meal standards by adding green vegetables, such as broccoli and greens. A variety of fresh fruits also are on the menu. She pointed out that the schools are staying within their budgets.
Fox said that her staff recently attended in-service training focusing on the theme "Courtesy is Contagious." She said that the guest speaker for the training was Long County Superior Court Clerk Sherry Long. Brant Phelps with the Long County Environmental Health Office also spoke to the employees about the school’s annual health inspections and keeping customers safe. Fox said both training sessions went well.
For more information on the school nutrition program, call Fox at 545-7819 or go to www.longcountyps.caom and click on the nutrition service tab.