Schools see food prices rise

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Austin Public Schools anticipates an 8 percent increase this year in food expenses, in line with current trends across the nation because of to high corn and wheat prices.

“We’re currently securing quotes for all types of menu items,” explained Lori Volz, director of finance and operations. “We’re trying to keep the food inflation down to 8 percent or less.”

The Austin School Board approved a bakery bid Monday from Sara Lee for 20 percent above last year at $14,255. A dairy bid of $125,266 was approved from Kemps, a 3 percent hike from 2007-08.

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Other higher-priced bids, like protein products, have not been reviewed.

“Early indications show that the price for chicken may be going up more than 8 percent,” Volz said. “We’re always looking for healthy options that would also be cost effective options.”

The district may have to adjust its menu to accommodate inflated food prices, but Volz stressed that they are doing their best not to sacrifice nutrition.

“We do have to abide by guidelines, and that is a nutritional content in every meal,” she said. “We’ll work on tweaking our menus as needed.”

Volz said she anticipates a small reimbursement for their $820,000 food and nutrition budget from the state.

Austin Public Schools has not increased student meal prices in four years despite food costs.

In 2008-09, adult breakfasts will increase 5 cents to $1.40, and 20 cents to $3 per lunch.

Students meal prices vary — elementary students pay 75 cents for breakfast and $1.70 for lunch; Ellis Middle School students pay 85 cents for breakfast and $1.90 for lunch; and high schoolers also pay 85 cents for breakfast and $1.90 for lunch.

Cartons of milk cost 35 cents each, and have remained so since 2003-04.

Students who qualify for reduced meals receive free breakfasts and 40-cent lunches.