The child nutrition bill signed by President Obama late last year has significantly changed the landscape of school lunches; however, The New York Times reports that while the bill has added healthier dining opinions in districts across the country, it also quietly mandated that the price of lunch is in line with what it costs to make them. The never average price of a school lunch will be $2.46. The government, which established a school lunch system in 1946, has never before involved itself with the actual cafeteria pricing of meals.
The government conducted research about the pricing of school meals and found that the money paid to schools to reimburse them for free and reduced price lunches is subsidizing the cost of food for children who are able to pay for their meals, as opposed to simply helping out those who need the assurance. The bill suggests that schools increase the cost of lunch in ten cent increments each year until the price matches the expense of making the meals, but some districts have already hit parents with twenty-five sent price hikes.
Detractors say that the increased cost of lunch will hit families who are struggling to make ends meet but don’t qualify for free meals and may also encourage some parents to pack their children’s food themselves,which would have a negative impact on the ability of the school to fund its meal programs.
The child nutrition bill also eliminated whole milk from most lunch menus and requires schools to provide adequate fruit and vegetable options.