Aug 6, 2012 12:07 PM
(AP) - Many school districts across Kentucky are charging students more for lunch this year to comply with a federal mandate to offer more fresh produce.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that districts in Fayette, Madison, Bourbon and Woodford counties are among those where students who pay full price for lunch will have to pay more. In Fayette County, the price is going up by 15 cents; in Madison County, a nickel; in Woodford, a dime; in Bourbon, a quarter at elementary schools.
The changes will bring the districts into compliance with 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which requires districts to serve fresh produce and to charge paying students the equivalent of the amount received from government reimbursements for students on free-and-reduced lunch.
"I know this is a difficult time to ask people to pay more," Bourbon County Superintendent Lynn Fryman said. "But I hope they will look at the quality of the meals and think that $2 is pretty good.
"However, I realize that for someone who has two children $6 a day times five days a week adds up pretty quickly. I truly wish we could offer a free lunch and breakfast for every child, but that just isn't the reality right now."
She said elementary lunches will cost $2 this year, up from $1.75 last year. The $2 cost for middle and high school students won't change.
In Fayette County, the price of lunch will increase from $2 last year to $2.15 this year; middle and high school lunches will increase from $2.10 last year to $2.25 this year, district officials said.
Madison County school district spokeswoman Erin Stewart said a government formula is used to come up with the price increases, so the result will vary by district. She said the increase this year will affect all schools in the Madison County district.
And there may be more increases to come as schools try to comply with the new rules.
"I think it's for the next five years that we will have to make some adjustments," Stewart said. "We didn't want to dump it all on people at one time, so we're doing it incrementally. It's a nickel this year, it might be 10 cents next year."
Sheri Eaves, food service director for the Woodford County Schools, is encouraging families to apply for free or reduced lunch if the higher price causes a hardship.
"Hopefully, it won't cause a hardship for any of our parents," Eaves said. "And maybe those people who need to apply for free and reduced lunches will go ahead and apply now so that we can feed their children for free. The whole purpose of the program is to feed the children."
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
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