Why lunches are costing schools more

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – If you look inside the freezer of a school cafeteria these days, you’ll find foods that wouldn’t have been there five years ago.

“I think it’s a great thing we’re doing and the responsible thing to do,” says Connie Little, Supervisor for Beavercreek’s Nutrition Department.

New federal standards have led schools to offer more fruits and vegetables and the breads now have to be whole grain, but to get those healthier foods, we found the school is paying about 20 percent more.

“It’s just like feeding a family healthy,” Little says. “It costs more to feed them healthy. The same thing goes with school lunches.”

The increased cost is especially tough for lunch programs because they’re self-sustaining. Their budget is made up of federal reimbursements and what students pay for lunches.

Nutrition officials say they’ve been able to absorb the higher prices.

“I believe it has been worth the cost,” Little says. “This is going to take a little while for the children to accept.”

Beavercreek has seen a 19 percent drop in the number of students getting lunches since they’ve gone to healthier foods.

Little says they’ve tried a number of innovative things to get kids accustomed to the healthier lunches and believe they’ll come around.

“We’ve done taste panels with the kids,” Little says. “That has been a huge success with the kids.

More standards are on the way for next school year when it comes to beverages and a la carte items students get, but Little says Ohio already has some regulations in place, so students won’t notice a major change.

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