Parents will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets to pay for school meals this coming year.
Gwinnett County Public Schools announced in a press release that the cost of lunch for the upcoming school year for elementary students increases from $1.75 to $2.00; middle and high school students lunches rise from $2.00 to $2.25. Breakfast for all grade levels increase from $1.00 to 1.25. The changes were approved over the summer break.
"The meal prices are going up in part due to new nutritional guidelines that are part of the , as well as due to operational costs," said Jorge Quintana, a spokesman for the school district.
The school district previously raised the price of school lunch four years ago, he added. And, the price of breakfast had not increased for a decade, Quintana said.
Besides the price changes, students can expect to see new menu items, as well. Chewy granola bars, all-natural fruit strips, Amazin’ Raisins, premium roasted chicken, a yogurt-muffin fruit platter, tortellini alfredo, chicken-sausage and sweet potato tots.
Last year, Gwinnett Counts schools served 22.2 million student lunches and 9.9 million student breakfasts. The school district is expected to serve about the same amount of meals in the coming school year. Based on recent figures, about 80 percent of the student body participates in the lunch program, and about 35 percent participate in the breakfast program.
In addition, the school district will be continuing its Farm-to-School initiative, which partners with local growers to feature Georgia-grown items on the menu. The program started last year.
“Eating locally grown foods are more nutritious and taste great,” said Karen Hallford, the school district’s registered dietitian, in a press release. “The minute a crop is harvested the nutrient content begins to decline. Therefore, the sooner we can get the foods to our students, the more nutrient dense they are.”
As part of the Farm-to-School initiative, schools also will continue with the district's Nutrition Education and Training, or NEAT, program. The program seeks to educate and encourage students to make healthy eating choices.
Popular food items served in Gwinnett County Public Schools last year:
By The Numbers
- 3.5 million servings of orange juice
- 1.8 million bottles of spring water
- 1.6 million servings of strawberry yogurt
- 1.4 million servings each of whole grain pizza and Asian chicken boneless wings
- 758,304 servings of vanilla pudding
- 617,472 servings of broccoli florets
- 261,000 servings of apples
- 224,094 servings of watermelon
- 146,412 servings of bell peppers