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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

School Lunch Prices

Shawn Cetrone has an interesting article on York County SC school lunch prices in Wednesday's Rock Hill Herald. The interesting part is how much more lunch costs  in Rock Hill and the fact the U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to make districts raise lunch prices if their 'paid' price is lower than they believe it should be. They have a valid concern that school districts may be using money received from the U.S.D.A for Free and Reduced lunches to subsidize lunches that other students are purchasing. However, this would  penalize districts that do a good job keeping costs down (and all paying customers). Seems to me a better solution would be for the U.S.D.A to reimburse districts based on a formula which uses their 'paid' price, not a price the U.S.D.A thinks it ought to be. There should be a driver for districts to keep operations efficient and costs down.

Which brings me to the other interesting part. Why are Rock Hill lunches more expensive than the other districts?

I don't know why (but am concerned). I can speculate that elementary school size being smaller in Rock Hill should contribute. But administrative costs should be less because we serve more lunches in the district. It could be that 53% of 'paying' students don't buy lunches or that 26% of those who qualify for free and reduced lunch don't either (how could a student in that category pass this up?) and the other districts have higher percentages eating lunch. Obviously getting more lunches purchased (either paid or F&R) would help. It could be that other districts are not paying rent for the use of district facilities. Which brings us to the question, should the school board rubber stamp a lunch price increase because a federal  agency requires it?

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