Lunch prices will rise for students in Mesa Unified School District next school year.
Elementary and junior high school students will pay an additional 10 cents per lunch, bringing the meals up to $1.85 and $2.35, respectively, said Loretta Zullo, director of food and nutrition for the 64,000-student district. High school students will pay an additional 25 cents, or $2.75.
The increase was required with the reauthorization of the federal school meal program, she said.
“The intent of the regulation is to close the gap between what school districts charge for a paid meal and the reimbursement districts receive for a paid lunch,” she said. The options, Zullo said, were to raise prices or for states to increase how much they reimburse schools for meals. But Arizona, does not reimburse for meals.
“I think most households will still look at the variety and options students have on any given day with the school lunch program and see it is still a very good value for the nutritional contribution,” she said.
About 59 percent of students in the district qualified for the federal free- or reduced-lunch prices last month, Zullo said — a 4 percent increase from this time last year.
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