UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Board of Education passed $.10 and $.15 increases for school meals in a 7-5 vote June 25 2015.
The increases, which was met with opposition from some board members, includes both breakfast and lunch meals at schools in the district. Both elementary and secondary schools will see a $.10 rise in breakfast prices, bringing the total cost to $1.60, and a $.15 increase in lunch, brining elementary school lunch costs to $2.75 and secondary schools costs to $3. The costs will not affect the families already in the free and reduced lunch program.
The change in prices stems from a recommendation from the department of food and nutrition services so the department can “maintain a financially self-supporting operation,” to comply with requirements from the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 and the rising cost of healthy foods.
The motion was introduced at the June 11 board meeting but was not discussed. Student Board member Jeffery Taylor II said he feared that the lack of discussion on the Board’s part kept parents uninformed.
“You’re basically telling them (they’re) paying $.15 more for the same thing and if I was a parent and I did not get that memo, I know that the school system just sent out a survey to parents, this week or last week, and I think that this is something that should be brought to their attention, especially before we come here to make this decision. I know that it was on first reader, but this is not going to sit well,” Taylor said.
Joan Shorter, director of food and nutrition services, said the school system last increased meal prices in 2011 and the schools have endured many changes in the federal opinion on school lunches, including the amount of fruit and vegetables required in a lunch. Because of the requirements from federal law, she said the school system does not have much control of the products it must offer.
“We’re basically a nutrition program and we want to encourage our students to eat fruits and vegetables and canned vegetables have a lot more sodium, they’re not as fresh and wholesome, so we offer up more fresh fruits and vegetables, but that’s all part of the cost that was associated with the changes in the meal pattern requirements, in addition to whole grain products, which are more expensive as well,” Shorter said.
Board member Curtis Valentine agreed parents should have been informed sooner, but said he understands why prices are increasing.
“It costs to eat healthy. I know that, everyone knows that. You want to go to Wegmans, you want to go to Whole Foods, and you want fresh fruits? That costs,” he said.
Despite opposition, the motion passed and the change in costs will take affect at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.