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Farmington school meal prices increase due to federal act

School breakfast and lunch prices will go up a nickel this fall due to reduced federal revenue from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmington School District Finance Director Jane Houska updated the Farmington School Board Monday, June 26, about price changes for school breakfast and lunch meals. The report was part of the board's approval of the 2017-18 budget.

Food service expenditures for the next school year are estimated to cost the district $3.1 million.

An online calculator estimates how much school districts require students to pay for school meals.

"Since lunches are funded with federal, state and local dollars, you have to provide them with how the federal dollars are not subsidizing all the other dollars in the program," Houska said.

The calculator reports Farmington needs to increase lunch prices by 5 cents.

In the fall, breakfast for all students from kindergarten through high school will be $1.40. Lunches for elementary youth will be $2.70; middle school lunch will be $2.85; and regular high school lunches will be $2.90. Premium high school lunches will increase to $3.70.

"That is something we have to do and it not something we get to vote on — it is mandatory we do it this year," Houska said.

As part of the overall budget approval, the school board approved a food service contract with Chartwells for $327,000 in a deal that runs from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

The food service contract with Chartwells is considered a cost reimbursable contract to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Only Chartwells showed up to bid for the contract earlier this year.

"In prior years we have had multiple vendors show up," Houska said. Comments from other food service vendors were complimentary and feedback was the companies were unsure how to do a better job for food service.

Because Chartwells was the only food service bidder, Houska said she was happy the company kept the same prices as the previous year.

Chartwells plans to invest $10,000 in Farmington to upgrade food service signage and the company will continue providing scholarships and reading grants.

"It is not because there are not vendors out there and not because those are not great, but it is because we do have a great program and they do not know how to compete," Houska said.

In the next year, the district plans to invest in food service programs and spend extra funds on school kitchen upgrades.

Boeckman Middle School will buy a new grill to allow a rollout of a new menu. New wells will be purchased at Dodge Middle School and Boeckman Middle School.