Saturday, May 30, 2009
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CONYERS - Prices for meals at Rockdale County Public Schools may increase from five to 25 cents per meal next school year.RCPS Superintendent Samuel King recommended during Thursday's work session that the Rockdale County Board of Education approve an increase in meal prices for the 2009-10 school year.Elementary student breakfasts will increase from 95 cents to $1 and lunches will increase from $1.60 to $1.75; middle school student breakfasts will increase from $1.10 to $1.20 and lunches will increase from $1.75 to $1.85; high school breakfasts will increase from $1.10 to $1.20 and lunches will increase from $1.85 to $2; and adult breakfasts will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 and lunches will increase from $2.75 to $3."This increase is necessary to continue operation of the program," King said in his recommendation.Peggy Lawrence, director of food services for the school system, said her self-supporting department is losing money because food products and supplies have increased in price and governmental support and participation has not.With the lagging economy and recent increase in fuel prices, resulting in a continued increase in prices on foods such as corn and supplies such as trash bags, Lawrence said a price increase is necessary."Overall, participation is almost dead even to last year ... for lunch," she said.Lunch participation is 74.8 percent on average for students through February, compared to 74.9 percent for the entire school year last year. Breakfast participation is 31.5 percent so far this year and 28.6 last year.She said the cost per plate is $2.63, but the government reimburses the school system only $2.57 per plate - and the program still needs money for supplies, equipment and other costs to run the department. Lawrence said the department sometimes may see an increase in governmental support of about 1 cent, but her department is lobbying Congress to increase its support even more."It's tough," she said about all of the increases. "We are literally losing money on every meal that goes out of the door."After being asked by the school board, Lawrence said an increase only in adult meal prices would not help, so she felt an increase across the board would be appropriate based on her projections in sales and costs this school year.Lawrence said even though her department has only increased prices two other times over the past 10 years she's been in the department, some will find a way to complain."You would not believe the complaints we get, even at the price of $2.75," she told the school board."I think they're getting a deal," said board Vice Chair Jean Yontz.Lawrence said nobody would find such a meal for that price anywhere."Despite the fact that we're going up ... you can't even produce a healthy, well-balanced meal, especially not a hot meal, at home for that price," she said. "I still think it's the best deal in town."The Rockdale County Board of Education is expected to vote on this item, which is part of a consent agenda, at its regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the board room at the administrative complex at 954 North Main St. in Conyers.Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.