SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. — The price of lunch will go up a quarter in Southborough schools after a unanimous vote of approval by the Southborough K-8 School Committee on Monday.
The new price would allow the school lunch program to avoid running a deficit, said Superintendent Charles Gobron, who recommended the increase. The Northborough K-8 School Committee made a similar decision at its June 6 meeting.
Under the new price, student lunches will go from $2.50 to $2.75. The only exceptions will be Deli Days at Trottier Middle School, where lunches that had cost $2.75 will now cost $3. Staff lunches, previously $3.25, will now cost $3.50.
Lunch prices have not increased in the school district since February 2009, according to a memo sent to Gobron by Business Director Cheryl Levesque. The memo also pointed out that prices in Southborough are still comparable to prices in neighboring districts. In Westborough and Shrewsbury, for example, lunches cost $2.75 at the elementary level and $3.00 at the middle school level.
Food Service Director Maura Feeley blamed rising costs. "The consumer price index has gone up for at-home food and wholesale food by probably 2 [percent] to 3 percent," she said.
New government mandates have also played a role, Feeley said. For example, she said, schools must offer breads, pastas and other baked goods that are at least 50 percent whole grain by next year. Schools will also face new limits on fats, salts and sugars.
But Feeley endorsed the regulations, saying that the schools plan to go even further. In two years, she said, they will serve 100 percent whole grains. The schools also plan to increase use of local produce and to serve more fresh produce in general.
The goal is to get more students to participate in the lunch program. "I think it's great if we can increase the price but get more kids buying," Gobron said.
Feeley also announced plans to redesign the lunch lines at Trottier to resemble those at Algonquin Regional High School, where school lunch is much more popular. This will involve a line for hot and cold food as well as significant menu redesigns. The line for cold food will alternate selling deli sandwiches and salads.
"They’re the hardest age group of us to reach in terms of what they like, what they don't like," Feeley said of middle school students. A survey has been done to gauge their tastes and preferences, she said.