Price for school lunch to go up for some kids, down to zero for others

Brooklyn Currents | 8/14/2013 | 0 comments

lunch by BrooklynCurrents
If your child buys lunch at school, get ready to give him or her an extra 25 cents a day for it.
The Department of Education plans to raise the price of lunch from $1.50 to $1.75, a 17 percent increase.

While for some families this will mean an increase in the cost of school lunch for the first time in 10 years, other families will discover that  there is such a thing as a free lunch -- those who qualify for reduced-price lunch will now get it for free (as an example, kids in a family of four with an annual income of less than $43,600 will get free lunch).

"We shouldn't be balancing the budgets on the back of working families."
  -- New York City Coalition Against Hunger

"This is a mixed decision, the fact that they are reducing prices for people at the edge of poverty while increasing prices for people slightly above that," said Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

Fewer than a fourth of of city students will have to pay for lunch, but for those who do, 25 cents more each day will add up to $45 more each year, NY1, which first reported the story, calculated. The DOE says all the additional quarters will bring in about a million extra dollars during the upcoming school year.

In a letter scheduled to be  sent home on the first day of school, the DOE tells parents, "We realize that the increase in the cost of lunch for our students who already pay full price will affect many families. We have carefully reviewed our costs and compared them to services provided in other districts; $1.75 for lunch is still well below the amount that other large school districts throughout the country charge, and continues to remain below the amount the DOE spends."

The department cites a rise in the cost of food and labor, as well as new federal guidelines that increase portion size. The city says it's also trying to use more fresh, healthy ingredients, which generally cost more.

The Coalition Against Hunger doesn't buy the argument.

"School meals are one of the most important educational tools, nutritional tools, and health tools our schools have," Berg said. "We shouldn't be balancing the budgets on the back of working families."

The price changes go into effect September 30, giving administrators time to collect new family-income forms from 1.1 million students.

Lunch applications are available at city schools, or online at

Breakfast will remain free for all students in the city's public schools. 


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