OBERLIN — Students who are paying full price to eat breakfast and lunch at schools in Allen Parish will be paying more to eat the meals this fall.
The Allen Parish School Board approved a 25-cents increase Monday for both breakfast and lunch for students that pay full price beginning in August. The increase will not affect students who qualify for reduced-cost meals.
Under the measure, the cost for for student breakfast will increase from $1 to $1.25. Student lunches will increase from $1.50 to $1.75.
Reduced price meals, which are set by the federal government, will remain at 30-cents for breakfast and 40-cents for lunches.
The board was expected to increase the meals by 50-cents, but Board Member Kevin Tyler amended the measure to reduce the increase to 25-cents for both meals.
“I agree this (an increase) needs to happen to offset the huge deficit that we were looking at yearly and also raise much needed funds for food service, but I feel 25-cents would be more absorbable to our parents,” Tyler said. “It’s such a big increase and we haven’t had one in 10 years. It’s sorely needed, but maybe a small increase would be better.”
The general fund is currently offsetting the deficit by $165,000 a year.
Tyler said the board could look at another increase in a few years to address the natural inflation of food costs and production.
About 30 percent, or 1,266 students, currently pay for full-price meals, according to Child Nutrition Programs Supervisor April Fruge Hall.
Board Member Carolyn Manuel feels the 25-cents increase would better for students.
“It won’t cut it down to what we want to cut it down to, but it will cut some of it without doubling up on the people that pay full price,” Manuel said. “I think that is fair.” She said more is needed to be done to reduce the costs of production to offset some of the costs of providing students’ meals.
She said the board should look at other options in reducing the costs of providing meals to students. A new kitchen at Kinder Elementary School is excepted to reduce the costs for that school, she said.
Hill said the School Board is currently implementing new software for inventory and to help monitor food costs and production.
Hill said the School Board does not have a food storage warehouse and only two food vendors, both of which affect food service costs.
At some point the School Board may need to look at putting in a food warehouse to store it’s own food and reduce cost, Manuel said. Hill cautioned that a warehouse would come with more costs including employees and electricity.