At least nine South Shore school districts say they’re forced to charge more for kids’ school lunches, and there are a multitude of reasons why.
Families paying more at the grocery store will also be spending more for their kids’ school lunches.
Lunch prices are going up in at least nine local school districts.
School food service directors say lunch programs are dealing with the same increases in food and fuel as everyone else.
“It’s everything, all costs going up. Food costs, labor costs, fuel, delivery charges,” said Joanne Morrissey, food service director for the Quincy School Department and outgoing president of the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts.
Lunch prices are going up in Quincy, Abington, Canton, Carver, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Pembroke and Stoughton. Prices are staying the same in Cohasset, Hanover, Braintree, Scituate and Duxbury. Other school districts – such as Whitman-Hanson, Weymouth, Silver Lake, Holbrook and Rockland – are still deciding what to do.
“I’m sure some parents will be upset,” said Jim Mullaney, director of the business office for Quincy schools. “When it affects someone’s wallet, they sit up and take note.”
Last year, the price of dairy products rose 25 percent, while flour went up about 40 percent, said David Zeoli, food services director for Weymouth schools. “The way the industry is going, it is very difficult to keep prices in line,” said Zeoli.
Jennifer Handy, the communications director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said school departments are struggling to maintain healthy, kid-friendly choices while keeping prices manageable.
In trying to keep that balance, some towns are choosing more a la carte items that they can charge students more for, or putting more options in vending machines. Other towns are going in the opposite direction, offering fewer choices so they can buy certain items in bulk at lower prices.
The point is that most districts are in a tough spot, made more difficult by the the economy.
“So many things are affected right now, and it’s a domino effect,” said Handy. “Schools are looking at changes in bus trips, transportation, food costs, lunch menus and, in some cases, layoffs of staff.”
Don Conkey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kristen Walsh of GateHouse News Service contributed to this story.
KEEPING COSTS DOWN
The state Department of Education has issued the following recommendations to school districts hoping to curb their food prices:
KEEP TABS: Fully assess their costs, month-by-month
DON’T WASTE IT: Check on inventory, to ensure that kids are buying what’s being ordered, and food isn’t going to waste
PORTION CONTROL: Keep portion sizes in check, and uniform
PRICE CHECK: Shop around for the best prices, including looking at area collaboratives and state bids
SCHOOL LUNCH PRICES
A round-up of what’s happening in South Shore public schools, when it comes to lunch prices – which are raising prices, which are keeping them the same, and which are still mulling it over:
ABINGTON: $2.25 for elementary and high school, up 25 cents;
CANTON: From $1.75 to $2 in elementary schools; $2 to $2.25 at middle school and high school;
CARVER: From $2.25 to $2.50 at the middle school and high school. Elementary school lunches remaining at $1.75;
HULL: From $2 to $2.50 at elementary schools and from $2 to $2.75 at the high school and middle school;
MARSHFIELD: From $2 to $2.50 at Marshfield High School and Furnace Brook Middle School; and $1.75 to $2.25 at the elementary schools;
NORWELL: From $2 to $2.50 at the elementary schools; from $2.25 to $2.75 at the middle school and from $2.25 to $2.75 at the high school;
PEMBROKE: From $1.75 to $2 at elementary schools and frm $2 to $2.25 at high school.
QUINCY: A 25-cent increase for lunches in elementary schools, to $1.75, and secondary schools, to $2.
STOUGHTON:From $1.50 to $1.75 at the elementary school level and from $1.75 to $2 at the middle school and high school.
COHASSET: $2.25 at Joseph Osgood School pre-kindergarten to grade 2; $2.50 at Deer Hill School grades 3 to 5 and $2.75 at the Cohasset Middle-High School.
BRAINTREE: $2 in elementary schools, $2.25 in the middle and high schools.
HANOVER:$1.60 at the elementary level and $1.75 for middle school and high school
SCITUATE: $2.25 for all students.
To be determined
SILVER LAKE: School lunch for grades 7-12 cost $2 last year. Elementary school prices were $1.50 in Kingston, $1.50 in Plympton and $1.75 in Halifax;
HOLBROOK: Prices last year were $1.75 for elementary school students and $2 for secondary school students, grades 7-12.
ROCKLAND: Elementary school lunch was $1.75 last year and $2 at the middle school and high school.