MASSENA — Lunches will cost a little bit more when Massena Central School students return in the fall.
Elementary school lunches will cost $2.45, up from $2.35. Lunches at J.W. Leary Junior High School and Massena Central High School will be $2.55, up from $2.45. There is no change in reduced price breakfast and lunch (25 cents) and the full student price for breakfast ($1.20).
“The lunch prices will increase by 10 cents, with no change to the breakfast. This is required in the Health and Hunger Free Kids Act. Most districts are raising lunch prices over time as a result of this act,” Superintendent Patrick Brady said during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.
The act requires school districts to raise lunch prices to close the gap between the revenues gained for paid meals versus free meal revenues.
“The general idea is that pricing for paid lunches is below the cost of production, which effectively increases federal subsidies for higher income children because federal funds intended for free and reduced price lunches are being used to help fill in the gap between what a paid lunch costs and what the school receives for it. Therefore, districts are required to raise the price of paid lunches over time so they meet cost of production,” Mr. Brady said.
“Based on their calculations, we are required to raise lunch prices by 10 cents in 2019-20,” he said.
During Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Brady also reported that they had received an anonymous $2,000 donation for the second consecutive year to apply toward student meal debt. The district has $13,000 in student meal debt, so the donation will reduce that to $11,000.
The debt cannot be carried over to the next school year and must be absorbed by the district.
“Any debt we incurred this year, we have to eat it. It starts anew next year,” he said.
Massena’s food service program lost just over $12,000 in the 2017-18 school year, compared with $85,000 for the 2016-17 school year. Of the $12,000 in losses, $2,600 was student lunch debt.
Mr. Brady said the district has little recourse when it comes to recovering student lunch debt from parents or guardians.