Does it feel like lunch prices at your child’s school are always on the rise? Sure it does, because they are. Now the state is planning on doing it again, as the price of a school lunch in Hawaii is heading up again.
The state is seeking an 85-cent increase to the price of a school lunch under a plan that would bring the cost of lunch for a high school student to $3.35, which is more than double what students paid in 2006.
The price hike for school lunches is expected to be put into affect in the fall of 2012 at the beginning of the new school year. This will put the cost of a school lunch in Hawaii well above the national average of $2,20. The school districts are looking to make more profit to help with the budget, but this price increase is only going to cause more families to opt-out of the school lunch program and send their kids with lunches from home instead.
DOE officials said the proposed price increase — which, if approved, would be the fourth since 2006 — is needed to make up for a $6 million cut in state funding to school food services next school year. This was definitely a hard hit, but spiking the price of school lunches is not the answer, just another poorly executed attempt at a solution. The Hawaii DOE continues to boggle our minds with some of their choices.
In a memo that included an outline of the changes, the Department of Education acknowledged Tuesday that some families “may not be able to afford this price increase, resulting in more children going hungry.” Interestingly enough, the Hawaii DOE knows what this is going to do to families who have a hard time feeding their kids, yet they are still moving forward with it. This is yet another example of how poorly the Hawaii DOE is run.
Lois Yamauchi, president of Parents for Public Schools, said the lunch prices will have a big effect on families that have several kids in public school. “For a three-child family, that (proposed lunch price) could be almost $10 a day,” Yamauchi said. “It creates a hardship.”
Under the department’s plan, lunch prices for elementary school students would increase by nearly 40 percent, to $3.10 from $2.25. The $3.35 price for middle and high school students represents a 34 percent increase, compared with the $2.50 they now pay.
The price for breakfast would also go up: Students in elementary school would pay $1.70, up from $1; secondary school students would pay $1.85, up from $1.10, according to the DOE.
School meal prices in Hawaii have been rising steadily since 2001 — when school lunches cost $1 — amid increasing food costs, worsening budget concerns and a state law that requires the DOE to set prices at no less than half of the cost of preparing the meals. The proposed meal-price increases come as public school parents are also being asked to pay more for other services that were historically low-cost or free, including school bus transportation and A+ afterschool care.
Liz Sager, president of PTSA’s Hawaii chapter, anticipates the higher prices will hit the “gap group” hardest. Those are families earning just above what’s required to qualify their kids for free or reduced-cost lunch.
While this may indeed help some with the budget windfall, it will be pretty damaging to families who have multiple children in school. If you have 2 kids in school at the same time, then you are looking at $6.70 per day. Which works out to $33.50 per week, which is a staggering $135 a month. You can break that price down even further is you would like.