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Monday, June 24, 2013

Lunch prices on the rise at Hudson elementary, middle schools

HUDSON – Elementary and middle school students in town will be paying more for school lunch next year, due to federal requirements.

Elementary lunch prices will rise from $1.75 to $1.90, while middle school lunch prices will increase from $1.85 to $2. There will not be a higher price at Alvirne High School. ...

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HUDSON – Elementary and middle school students in town will be paying more for school lunch next year, due to federal requirements.

Elementary lunch prices will rise from $1.75 to $1.90, while middle school lunch prices will increase from $1.85 to $2. There will not be a higher price at Alvirne High School.

The changes, shared with the Hudson School Board on Monday night, are the result of a change in federal requirements, which intend to bring school meal prices around the country in line with actual cost.

“The district is placed in a position where it has no option,” wrote business administrator Karen Burnell in a memo to the board.

The federal guidelines are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, part of which requires school districts “to charge students for paid meals at a price that is on average equal to the difference between free meal reimbursement and paid meal reimbursement.”

This year, school districts must charge an average of $2.59 for lunch, or the weighted average cost for lunch in schools across the country, Burnell wrote in the memo.

While Hudson’s food service program is self-funded, she said, the district does receive federal reimbursements for students receiving free or reduced school lunch and breakfast. If the district did not raise its prices in line with the federal requirements, it could lose those reimbursements, which total about $330,000 each year.

Many school districts in the region saw similar increases in the current school year due to the federal requirements, and Hudson likely won’t be alone in raising its prices for the next school year.

Nashua raised its school lunch prices last year for the second time in as many years, increasing lunch by 10 cents at elementary schools and 25 cents at the high schools. Breakfast prices in the city also rose for the first time in five years.

At the time, food service Director Jeanette Kimbell, who retired last month, said she hoped the increase would be enough to keep food prices stable next school year. Merrimack also raised its lunch prices this year, bringing them up by 25 cents across the board.

In Hudson, the extra revenue generated by the higher lunch prices next school year will be used to provide a larger variety of fruits and vegetables at all schools, also a part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The act requires that schools provide more fresh fruits and vegetables – every student must be provided at least one every day – as well as more leafy green vegetables, dark yellow and orange vegetables.

Danielle Curtis can be reached
at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com.