February 21, 2024

The Future of School Lunches

The Universal School Meal Program Act was passed on May 10, 2021, ensuring that kids that they are open to free lunches after the outbreak of COVID-19. However, after 2 years this came to an end after the school board voted 6-0 to raise lunch prices from 2022-2023 after realizing this was not much of an option after schools spent $14.2 billion on 4.9 billion school lunches. Using the latest Consumer Price Index data comparing prices in July 2021 to prices in July 2022, WCNC Charlotte compiled a list of school lunch staples and noticed that everything is more expensive than it was last year.

The main reason for the price increase was the rise in food costs. The CPI for all food increased 1.1 percent from June 2022 to July 2022, The percent increase since July 2021 was an astonishing 10.9 percent. The main reason for this was induced by the pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine.

In the first year of the pandemic, schools served 2.2 billion fewer meals compared to the prior year. This could be because the price rise for school lunches causing much stress on parents. “Food bank usage is predicted to be 61% higher this coming winter than it was last winter. That is a mere prediction. It will take a lot more than free school meals to sort out this poverty crisis, but does the Secretary of State agree that that is the least we can do to help support struggling families?” Tanmanjeet Dhesi states. However, there is a way to help if you are having money issues.

Many schools will let you know if your child is eligible for free lunch if they are not, you can easily get involved with the “Community Eligibility Provision”. However, this is only available with certain schools, Including Wichita Public Schools. Schools encourage you to join the CEP program if money is an issue. Another way the government is trying to help with school lunches is with the National School Lunch Program. The program offers a reduced lunch for students whose household income is under $3,000 a month. Those whose income is above the threshold are required to pay daily for lunch.

If you are wondering what these prices are elementary schools charge $2.60, $2.75 for middle schools, and $2.90 for high school. Schools still say that it will be much cheaper than taking your lunch.

Elementary and middle school student breakfasts will be $1.90 each. While high school student breakfast will be $1.95 each, not including the 50 cents extra for milk. The schools lunch includes some grains, fruits, vegetables, some meat or protein, and dairy products such as milk and cheese.