Schools to raise meal prices

2011-06-15T00:00:00Z Schools to raise meal pricesBy ALANA LISTOE Independent Record Helena Independent Record
June 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The cost to eat meals at school is going up.

School trustees in Helena and East Helena approved an increase to breakfast and lunch prices this week, and the prices will continue to increase until the regular lunch price matches the federal reimbursement for students who receive free lunches.

This fall, families will pay 25 cents more for lunch and 10 cents more for breakfast. For lunch, that’s $2.15 for elementary and middle school students and $2.25 for high school. It’s now $1.10 at all levels for breakfast.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program to provide the level of financial support for paid meal service to students who are not eligible for free lunches.

“We will soon be required to increase school lunch (prices) to more closely reflect what the school is reimbursed from the federal government for free and reduced lunch,” East Helena Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer said Monday night at the board meeting.

The prices will slowly increase until they meet the reimbursement prices of $2.46 for lunch.

“Even though we can operate our program in the black, you are being forced by the federal government to do this,” Whitmoyer said.

The price increase takes away local control and the hike gets passed on to families, Whitmoyer said.

“I don’t want to go to my families and say you have to suck it up because the federal government says you have to — it’s not right,” he said.

The cost of living is not the same across the country and Whitmoyer said he should have to treat families in the East Helena district as if it were. He, however, has no choice.

Kim Harris, business manager for the Helena School District, says she doesn’t expect the change to impact the budget or the number of students eating meals at school.

For the recently completely school year, a student in a family of four with an annual income no greater than $28,665 is eligible for free lunch.

Sodexo, the food service provider for Helena Schools, serves free lunch to all children under 18 during the summer months at local parks near low-income housing. The district receives a per-meal reimbursement from the government and in turn it pays Sodexo based on the number of meals served.

The Helena School District pays Sodexo $2.33 per meal.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Longinus
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    Longinus - June 16, 2011 9:13 pm
    As always. If you can't feed em, Don't breed em.
  2. thinkitthrough
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    thinkitthrough - June 15, 2011 6:22 pm
    The district can afford a so called Health Curriculum that many parents are against. How is this paid for? They're going to teach our children healthy choices while they serve pizza every day. What do you think kids are putting on their plate? I have a family of 4. We make 100.00 dollars more than the allowed income for reduced lunches. I'm tired of paying for everyone else and living penny to penny. There are many parents using their kids for welfare. The more babies the more welfare. It's time to turn this sick system around and force people off the special programs. Get off the cigarettes, throw the bottle of alcohol away, quit hiding behind a false psychological disorder, get a job, and become a productive meber of society.
  3. Sacaudos
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    Sacaudos - June 15, 2011 3:34 pm
    I have mixed feelings about the program. On the one hand, I agree that there are many families who honestly do need assistance, but on the other, there are many parents who purchase cigarettes, cell phones, etc. instead of buying their children coats, food, etc. or who choose to take advantage of the system so that they have extra cash for non-essentials. I don't think the children should have to suffer because they have selfish or foolish parents, but I do think this problem needs to be addressed somehow.
    What strikes me as odd is that there are so many people who "need" assistance. This indicates that we have a society in which the wealth distribution is definitely skewed (which is actually true. According to current figures, a small percentage of the population holds 2/3 of the country's wealth) AND it indicates that another percentage of our society is becoming lazier than their immigrant ancestors because they are willing to take subsidies instead of work harder to make ends meet.
  4. skysthelimit
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    skysthelimit - June 15, 2011 12:22 pm
    Matthieu... isn't it ironic how many of those kid's come in reeking of cigarette smoke? no bucks/no care=no lunch but the parents can manage a pack a day habit.
  5. fleurdelis75
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    fleurdelis75 - June 15, 2011 11:58 am
    Sacaudos I agree that poeple don't take the time anymore. Making a sandwich at home and an apple still costs less than $2.25. However, a child should not go hungry because his/her parents are "too busy" to feed them.
  6. Matthieu Oppedahl
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    Matthieu Oppedahl - June 15, 2011 9:27 am
    Sacaudos-- I agree entirely with your comment in principle; the subsidized lunches are for kids who's parents don't have the bucks to feed their kids. No bucks/no care=no lunch.
  7. Sacaudos
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    Sacaudos - June 15, 2011 8:35 am
    It is perfectly acceptable to raise the price of lunches. A lunch anywhere else in town would cost more. That said, I honestly don't understand why it is so important to subsidize so many lunches and breakfasts. It doesn't cost much and isn't that hard to make a simple sandwich or leftovers from dinner, plain yoghurt, a banana or other fruit and water to drink on the side. That's all my child gets and she's perfectly healthy. I guess people just don't take the time to prepare food anymore.

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