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May 8, 2013

School lunch prices on the rise in Southern N.H.

School lunch prices on the rise

Students should be prepared to spend a little more at lunchtime next year.

Timberlane and Londonderry school administrators have recommended raising lunch prices in the fall. Other districts may, too.

Timberlane will raise its prices 10 cents, in part to meet federal reimbursement rates, but also to overcome a lunch program deficit that was nudging $100,000 at the end of February.

Londonderry School District business administrator Peter Curro planned to recommend a 15-cent increase to the School Board last night.

Lunch prices in the Timberlane district range from $2 at the elementary school level to $2.75 at the high school. The price for adults will go up 10 cents to $3.60.

Timberlane superintendent Earl Metzler said the primary reason for the increase is to reach the mandated federal reimbursement rate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

School districts receive federal funds for every school lunch, $2.86 for each student who qualifies for a free lunch and 27 cents for a paying student. Districts must charge, on average, the difference between the two rates.

“We want to stay in line with federal guidelines, while keeping it reasonable for the taxpayer,” Metzler said.

But the price hike should also help a program that reported losing $94,000 by the end of February. Metzler said school lunch participation was down nationwide, but would not elaborate on why Timberlane’s program had lost so much money.

Despite the big loss, Timberlane Regional School District may stay with the same provider.

The district is in negotiations with Whitson’s Culinary Group for next year, Metzler said. The school has a five-year contract with Whitson’s, but officials were considering taking advantage of an opt-out clause after a rough first year.

Metzler had floated the idea of the district running its own food service program, but the contract with Whitson’s may not allow that.

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