Law requires borough schools to raise lunch prices

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NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck public school lunch prices are going up by 10 cents next school year.

Board of Education Food Service Director Kate Murphy explained to the board, during its regular meeting last Thursday, the increase stems from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“They said there had to be an average weighted cost for each meal of at least $2.51,” Murphy said.

To reach the average weighted cost, Murphy took the cost of all of the meals in all of the grades into consideration.

“We are below the threshold that they are requiring. We are 15 cents below what the USDA requires for the Health Hunger-free Kids Act,” Murphy said.

However, another regulation put in place by the act allows no more than a 10 cent increase to the price of school lunches per year.

“So, based on being in compliance with the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, we will have to raise the lunch prices by 10 cents,” Murphy said.

The district will have to make a second price increase next year to bring itself into compliance with the law.

Murphy explained that the board did not have to vote on this issue since it was passed down from the USDA and is mandatory.

Price was not the only thing about school food that the USDA is changing with the act.

Murphy told the board that next year the USDA will require the district to recalculate what it spends on meals for students to see if they are in compliance with the requirements yet.

“There will be meal changes. It’s going from nutrient-based, what we are right now, our meals are based on calories and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. Next year … it will be changed to components. There will be five components and the children will be required to take three out of the five components at lunch. And one of them will have to be a fruit or vegetable. They will not have the choice of taking that,” Murphy said.

She explained that Naugatuck is in compliance with most of the USDA’s new regulations, such as offering fresh fruits and vegetables every day.