HISD to raise school lunch prices

HOUSTON Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra will ask the school board this week to raise the price for reduced-price lunch from 20 cents to 40 cents, the same price as many other school districts. The reduced-price lunches already are 40 cents at similar school districts such as Fort Worth, El Paso, Dallas and Aldine.

The price of full-priced lunches would increase from $1.40 to $1.60 for elementary students and from $1.50 to $1.70 for secondary students under the proposal. The price of adult lunches also will be increased, if the school board approves the proposal, from $2.35 to $2.65.

Soaring food prices nationally are the cause of the proposed increase. The cost of food for HISD's school meal program is expected to skyrocket this year, from $36.4 million last year to $41 million. Food suppliers nationwide have sharply increased the price of food, with increases ranging from 20 percent for produce to 14 percent for milk and eight percent for bread.

Breakfast at HISD schools will continue to be offered free of charge to all students every day under the plan.

The school board will vote on the proposal Thursday.

HISD rolled back the cost of school meals on October 1, 2004 and has held meal prices steady since then while other school districts across the country increased their prices. For the past four years, the cost of reduced-prices lunches was 20 cents, down from 40 cents in 2003. The cost of a full-price meal also was cut, by 10 cents on every meal, beginning October 1, 2004. The price cuts saved students and their families an estimated $825,000 a year.

"HISD was one of the few school districts anywhere in the country that actually reduced its school meal prices the last few years, and we have been proud to hold prices lower for the past four years," Dr. Saavedra said. "But as fuel costs and other inflationary pressures force the cost of food up around the country, we just don't have a choice now, we must increase the price."

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