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Food costs spur slight increase in 27J meal prices

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — Higher food costs are prompting School District 27J’s Nutrition Services program to raise the price of meals. Students returning to school this fall we see the price of breakfast, lunch and milk increase by 10 cents for students and 15 cents for adults. 

This means students at the elementary school will now pay $1.70 for breakfast and $2.45 for lunch. Students at the middle school will pay $1.85 for breakfast and $2.70 for lunch and students at the high school will pay $1.95 for breakfast and $2.95 for lunch. Milk has increased to 60 cents and adults will pay $3.80 for lunch.

Nutrition Services Director Tony Jorstad said the cost of food has gone up, which is the biggest reason for the slight increase.

“There’s a lot of market factors that have affected prices,” he said. “The drought in the past two years has recently impacted the prices for fruits and veggies. We’re paying twice as much for canned items as we did a few years ago, so that’s had a big impact.”

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has also played a part in the increase as the district is required to provide fresh fruits and veggies with lunches as well as meet fiber and sodium requirements stipulated under the act. Jorstad said the healthier foods, such as those with whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, cost more. 

He said this year, students are required to take a fruit or vegetable with their breakfast, too, which will also increase the districts cost. 

According to Jorstad, the district hasn’t had a problem meeting the fiber requirements because of the whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Meeting sodium requirements, however, has been been challenging for the district.

“That definitely is a challenge, to decrease those sodium levels to what they want,” he said. “So far we’ve been okay meeting the first tier of the requirements, but in a couple years when they get a little more strict, we’re going to have to get a little more creative with our menu.”

The board of education approved the 10-cent increase when it adopted the 2014-15 budget in June.