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Calif. school districts raise lunch prices

May 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
We're all feeling the squeeze of higher food costs and rising gas prices. Now several school districts say they have no choice but to raise the prices of students' meals. Parents will have to dig deeper into their own pockets to feed their kids at school. You see it at the gas pump, you see it at the grocery store: Prices are going up everywhere, and that is affecting school lunches at the Norwalk/La Mirada School District.

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At Morrison Elementary School, prices for school lunches and breakfasts are going up as well, by 25 cents per meal. That may just be a quarter, but for some parents, it is a huge problem.

Lunch in the cafeteria is a favorite time of day for students at Morrison Elementary School in Norwalk. But a hot lunch will soon be harder to come by for some of them.

Several school districts across the state, including here in Southern California, are raising their prices by between 25 and 50 cents per meal.

"The prices have increased because of the cost of food and fuel and supplies that we're paying," said Laura Glenn, Nutrition Services director for the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. She says in the past year, the cost of food and supplies for school meals has gone up 26 percent and continues to rise every day.

The switch to more healthy choices, including fresh fruit, is also costing more. As a result, the cost of lunch at the district's elementary schools is going up from a $1.50 to $1.75. Middle school and high school lunches are also up 25 cents, to $2.25 per meal.

"We're getting notification from vendors that they were not able to honor their bids; that their prices have gone up and that we're welcome to go to the next-lowest bidder if we need to, but everyone's prices have increased," said Glenn.

Seventy-five percent of the students at Morrison Elementary receive free and reduced-price lunches, and will not be affected by the price increase. It's the remaining 25 percent that are really going to feel the pinch.

"I think it's outrageous," said parent Sonia Campos. "A lot of parents around this area can't afford to pay for the lunches already as it is." Campos has three children at Morrison Elementary. "I think it's horrible," she said. "Gas is going up, so you don't want to drive. The prices of food are going up. A loaf of bread is not what it used to cost anymore. So everything is just getting too high. It's making it harder for people to survive."

Those that are participating in the free or reduced-price lunch program will not be affected by the price hike, but those people that do not qualify have to pay out of pocket 25 cents more per meal.

 

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