EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

School districts in Utah keeping lunch costs down despite inflation

Nov 4, 2022, 3:00 PM

a child and his school lunch are pictured...

A student eats his lunch at Midvale Middle School on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rising inflation is impacting the prices of school lunches for many kids across the country. But some districts in Utah have been able to keep their school lunch prices steady.

The Jordan, Granite and Canyons school districts have all kept prices the same as before the pandemic.

It’s $1 for elementary kids to eat breakfast in the Canyons School District and $2 for lunch.

And that’s the same as previous years, according to a district spokesperson.

What’s keeping school lunch costs down?

In the Granite District, Ben Horsely said they’ve been able to keep costs at the same level as before the pandemic because inflation hasn’t hit their budget yet.

“We do expect some inflationary increases necessary in future years, but obviously we try to keep that price associated with our actual cost to the highest degree possible. And that was not necessary for this current school year.”

And, Horsley said, the federal government also increased the reimbursement amount this year for children who qualify. So school districts are receiving more money per student to offset costs.

“That money goes into a specific pool and budget. Sometimes the federal reimbursement rate and the amount paid by non-eligible families exceeds our costs. And so year to year we balanced the need to increase the price of lunch based on the federal reimbursement and what our actual costs are.”

Horsely said they are also seeing more families apply for federal assistance for free or reduced lunch this year.

That’s because a federal program to offer free lunch to all students ended this year.

Beyond lunches

Despite being able to keep school lunch prices down, school districts in Utah are still dealing with issues within lunchrooms.

Finding enough food service workers and managing supply chain issues have caused problems for schools.

“Those problems have persisted through this year. We continue to struggle to hire food service workers, which means the remaining workers are working overtime and longer shifts to be able to cover the needs of providing food services in our schools,” Horsely said.

Related: Ogden School District adds more schools to no cost-meals program

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School districts in Utah keeping lunch costs down despite inflation