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NCSS may raise school lunch prices
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The Newton County Board of Education heard a recommendation for a student lunch price increase of 10 cents for all paid students for the 2015-15 school year at its Tuesday work session.

The proposed increase would set elementary school paid lunches at $1.70 and secondary paid school lunches at $1.95. The amounts are according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Paid Lunch Equity calculator.

Breakfast prices will remain at the current level. Adult lunch prices will remain at $3. Free and reduced lunches will also remain the same.

Jan Loomans, NCSS director of operational services, said the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which passed in December 2010, included an amendment called the National School Lunch Program: School Food Service Account Revenue.

The amendment required schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, as Newton County schools do, to ensure sufficient funds are provided to the nonprofit school food service account for meals served to students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Under the USDA rule, there are two ways for schools to meet the requirement: through prices charged for paid meals, or through other non-federal sources provided to the nonprofit school food service account. Newton County schools are increasing paid meals prices.

Over the next seven years, the school lunch program meal prices for paid lunches must increase to an amount equal to the federal reimbursement rate for free meals, less the paid meal reimbursement of 27 cents. The meal price target for FY 2015 is $2.59 for paid meals.

Last year, officials expected lunch prices to increase for the 2013-14 school year. However, the Georgia Department of Education gave the Newton County School System approval to maintain its prices after a revision to the USDA’s regulation for meal price equity.

The revision was made after many school nutrition directors complained. The USDA amended the provision to state that if a school district had sufficient money in the bank to cover three months of operating expenses, the district did not have to increase meal prices.

Despite increases for next school year, Loomans told the Board that Newton County School System student meal prices would be below nearby school districts with similar menus.

The Board will vote on the proposed increases at its Tuesday, March 18, regular meeting.

In other BOE news, the Board approved allowing Voices of Faith Ministries to continue using the facilities at Middle Ridge Elementary School for its church services.

According to a recommendation, Voices of Faith has requested use of the auditorium at Middle Ridge Sundays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday evenings from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m., beginning March 16. The cost will be $578 per month, which includes the rent and utilities for the facility during the time allotted.