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Price Hike This Year for Braintree School Lunches, But Less Than Proposed for Students

Based on federal law, Braintree's lunch prices are required to go up at least 10 cents this coming year.

Lunch prices for students will rise 10 cents for the year starting in September based on the School Committee's approval earlier this week, while adult prices will go up 25 cents.

Earlier this summer, Food & Nutrition Services Director Megan Ahrenholz this year instead of a potential 10 cent increase each year over the next three years that is required as part of a federal food program obligation.

Previously, prices were $2 for full-price lunch at the elementary level, $2.25 at the middle schools and high school, and $2.50 for the salad and pasta bar at BHS. Adult prices were $3 at all levels.

The committee went with a hybrid price hike to avoid making families of students deal with the more steep 25-cent increase this fall, Mayor Joseph Sullivan said. 

Braintree was required to raise its prices at least 10 cents this year under a section of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Ahrenholz wrote in a letter to Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg in June. 

The federal provision mandates that school programs participating in the National School Lunch Program "ensure that sufficient funds are provided to the non-profit school food service account for lunches served to students who are not eligible for free or reduced price lunches (i.e. paid lunches)," Ahrenholz wrote.

For the school year 2012-2013, lunch programs such as Braintree's must charge on average at least $2.51. Braintree's average last year was $2.16, therefore the school system had to gradually increase its prices. 

Ahrenholz also argued at the earlier committee meeting that the 25-cent increase would help support the costs of equipment maintenance and replacement, as well as the cost of providing more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Even with the approved increase, Braintree's prices will remain in the mid-range compared to nearby communities. Hingham, for instance, charges $3.25 for high school lunches, according to data provided by Ahrenholz.

Several towns, incuding Duxbury, Rockland, Cohasset and Norwell charged $2.75 at that level in fiscal year 2012. Stoughton, with one of the lowest priced school lunch programs, charged $2 at the middle and high school levels.

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