Student meal costs going up in district 

Students buying meals in the South San Francisco Unified School District will take a hit in the wallet next year since the school board approved a price hike on all meals offered by the district.

Most meal prices will be increased by 15 cents to 50 cents for the 2007-08 school year. The increase does not affect reduced-meal prices — still at 40 cents for lunches and 30 cents for breakfast — but it is expected to generate $130,000 in revenue, which should help ease any strain the food program puts on the district’s funds.

The district hasn’t increased breakfast prices in more than six years, but in 2004-05, the cost of lunch received an across-the-board 25-cent increase, according to Song Chin-Bendib, the district’s associate superintendent of business services.

Breakfasts at the district’s schools run from $1 to $1.65. Lunches cost students from $2 to $2.50.

Nutrition Services, which runs the district’s meals program, said an increase in food, supplies and labor costs necessitated the increases, according to Chin-Bendib.

"We have to keep up with the cost of doing business," she said.

A survey of neighboring school districts showed that South San Francisco Unified prices are below average, according to a staff report.

The Jefferson Union High School District charges $3 for lunch and $1.65 for breakfast, while theJefferson Elementary School District charges $1.75 for lunch and doesn’t offer a breakfast, according to district officials. In the San Mateo-Foster City School District, students pay $2 for lunch and $1.25 for breakfast.

Some worried the increases in South City’s school district would pose problems for families on strict budgets — 31.8 percent of students are in the free- and reduced-meals program.

Liza Normandy, a South San Francisco Unified School board member, said the costs would likely place a burden on some but hoped parents would understand.

"I think hopefully parents will understand that meal prices haven’t been raised" in some time, she said. "I hope it doesn’t pose any negative to any family."

Karin Jweinat, the PTSA president for El Camino High School, said in an e-mail that the rise in prices could "potentially be difficult for many, many families, particularly if there are multiple children in school."

"I find the meals rather expensive at the moment with one child still in school. I sometimes just manage with the two jobs I have," Jweinat said.

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