Meal prices increase for Clayton students

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jeylin White


Clayton County Public Schools students, who pay full price for their meals, will have to pay more for breakfast and lunch, in the 2011-2012 school year.

The Clayton County Board of Education approved the higher prices during its June business meeting, citing the district's need to be in compliance with the federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Audrey Hamilton, the director of school nutrition for the district, said, "It's been 16 years since the district has seen a hike in meal prices. While other surrounding districts have raised their prices, we have managed to keep ours the same for a while."

However, Hamilton said she suspects this may be the first of many increases for the district. "This is the first of what we anticipate to be a series of annual increases for those who pay full price for their meals," she said. "We are being mandated by federal law to implement this increase."

She added that there was a gap between the reimbursement rates from federal programs for free and reduced lunches, and the reimbursement rate for students who pay full price for meals. "The district gets $2.46 for every free meal, and $0.28 for every paid meal ...," she said.

The federal government is asking school systems to -- over the next few years -- close the gap in the cost-differences. "These meal prices were designed to help close that gap," said Hamilton.

According to the Clayton County Public Schools' web site, the district provides lunches to more than 84 percent of students in the district, which amounts to about 42,000, students, and breakfast to more than 39 percent of students, or 19,700 pupils. Those figures are among the highest averages in the state.

"Due to the price increase for paid students," Hamilton said, "I believe more parents may apply for the free/reduced lunch program."

She said that starting July 1, students paying full price in all grade levels will have to pay $0.25 more for breakfast meals, including adults, who purchase breakfast in school cafeterias. Lunch meals will increase by $0.30 cents, for all grade levels, however, adults will have to pay $0.50 more for their lunch meals.

"The increase will not affect students who participate in the free/reduce lunch program," said Hamilton.

The 2011-2012 schedule for meal prices will be the following:

* Elementary:

$1.00 for Breakfast.

$1.50 Lunch.

* Middle School and High School:

$1.10 Breakfast.

$1.75 Lunch.

* Reduced Meal:

$0.30 Breakfast.

$0.30 Lunch.

* Adult Meals:

$1.75 Breakfast.

$3.00 Lunch.