Some Charleston County and Dorchester 2 parents will be paying more for their children to eat school lunches and breakfast this fall.
Both school boards met and agreed in separate votes Monday night to increase lunch and breakfast prices by 10 cents. Federal law requires school districts to gradually raise the prices paid by parents who aren’t considered low-income.
In Charleston County, lunch prices will go up to $2.25, and breakfast will cost $1.40
In suburban Dorchester 2, elementary and middle school students will pay $1.60 for lunch, while high school students will pay $1.70. Breakfast will cost $1.05.
“We’re doing what we have to do,” said Charleston County school board member John Barter. “This is not an elective increase. And we’ll probably have to do this for a few more years.”
The price hikes are a result of the relatively new Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was signed into law in 2010. The legislation requires districts to increase their meal prices until they reach a certain rate. That long-term target is $2.57.
In Berkeley County, meal prices didn’t increase this year, and officials don’t plan to ask for an increase for 2013-14. The school approved a 25-cent hike in lunch and breakfast prices for 2011-12 to avoid increases the following two years, said Susan Haire, district spokeswoman. Students are paying $1.25 for breakfast and $2 for lunch.
Charleston County bumped up its lunch prices by 10 cents for this school year, but it hasn’t increased breakfast prices in three years. Officials said the cost of breakfast items has jumped as much as 40 percent during that time.
Still, the breakfast price change won’t affect the nearly 45 percent of district schools offering free breakfast to all students, said Walter Campbell, the district’s director of nutrition and food service.
Campbell said the district is continuing efforts to improve its menus. The new law mandates more nutritious meals by cutting sodium and using more whole grains. This fall, the law requires students to be served a fruit or fruit juice with breakfast.
In Charleston, the higher prices will generate about $77,000 to offset the costs of food and supplies, Campbell said.
In Dorchester 2, officials weren’t immediately sure how much additional revenue they would see, but district Spokeswoman Pat Raynor said that money would help with rising food costs, increasing fruits and vegetables, replacing equipment, and paying wages.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.