Smithfield Herald

School lunches in Johnston to cost more

Andy Lawter and Kaila Dean enjoy lunch at Clayton High. Lunch prices at the school next year will increase five cents.
Andy Lawter and Kaila Dean enjoy lunch at Clayton High. Lunch prices at the school next year will increase five cents. ajames@newsobserver.com

School lunch prices in Johsnton County will increase five cents next year.

For students in grades K-8, the price will be $2.10. For high school students, it will be $2.30 in the 2013-2014 school year.

Rachel Findley is director of child nutrition services for the Johnston County schools. She said the price increase complied with a new federal directive. “It is to help close the gap between what a paying student is paying and what the federal government is reimbursing for reduced lunch students,” Findley said.

Currently, the federal government pays Johnston County schools $2.94 per meal for students who get reduced-price lunches. For students who pay full price, the federal reimbursement is 26 cents.

The number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches climbed 1 percent this year. It now stands at 14,490 students, or 45 percent of all Johnston students.

The price increase does not affect a la carte items, only those meals that are on the standard menu.

Findley said that along with a price increase, the size of meal’s entree will be larger. It will not be a drastic change -- maybe five chicken nuggets instead of four for K-8 students, for example.

In the past couple years, the school system has worked to make meals healthier, Findley said. Each meal includes milk, an entree, fruits and vegetables. Each student must choose at least one fruit or vegetable. Also, this is the fourth year the school system has used whole-wheat bread.

“There has been a big push to implement whole grains, and we no longer serve white bread,” Findley said.

The schools have also started serving more fresh vegetables instead of canned ones. Students, for example, can choose raw broccoli or carrots with ranch dressing.

“We cut out the canned options to lower the salt in the meals,” said Findley.

Also, the schools have done away with fried foods. French fries, for eample, are now baked.

“We’re trying to slowly provide more-healthy meals,” Findley said.

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