Higher school lunch meal prices loom - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Higher school lunch meal prices loom

Dominic Julian Dominic Julian
Nelvie Julian Nelvie Julian
Randy Moore Randy Moore

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Lunch price increases at Hawaii's public schools are imminent and will soon almost double.

For parents, it's yet another cost increase to swallow and it's all thanks to a new law.

Under a bill signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle, schools must price their meals at least half of what it costs to prepare them. Students pay a $1.25 for lunch, starting the 2010 school year, they'll spend more than $2.

It's lunchtime at school and every student has their succulent favorites like first grader Dominic Julian.

"I like to eat apples," said Dominic Julian.

But a close second,

"Egg rice, tomatoes," said Julian.

His mom says school meals aren't only about cost but convenience.

"For me and my husband, we both work and so this is much easier," said Parent Nelvie Julian.

A medley of labor, kitchen, electricity, and food costs calculated to $27 million last year, that's now up to $31 million. It takes about $4.20 to feed each student, the law now requires the Department of Education to charge at least half that.

"Now instead of lasting for six months, what you're paying will only last you three months," said Julian.

School officials say the increase will avoid taking bites out of other areas of the budget.

"The more money we pay to subsidize meals, the less we have for other educational purposes. Teachers, books what have you," said Assistant Superintendent Randy Moore.

Breakfast may go from $.35 to $.88, while lunch would increase from $1.25 to at least $2.10. The new law allows the DOE to charge more but it says there are no intentions for that. Price hikes will be finalized in July or August.

The Julians look at the changes with a glass half full.

"I'm frustrated, but we can't do anything we just have to balance some where else," said Nelvie Julian.

Board of Education members say the increase since the increase is required by law, the matter is out of their hands. But, the state is still in good shape, with lunch prices far below the national average.

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