School Committee Votes to Increase Lunch Prices for Students

The Malden School Committee met the evening of Monday, Mar. 7, 2016 to vote on an issue that would potentially impact all students in the Malden Public Schools system beyond the 2015 to 2016 academic year: lunch prices. Currently, Malden does not meet the state and federal recommendation for standard lunch prices. The committee ultimately voted to increase prices, which means lunch will soon cost at least $2.65 on average, the recommended minimum, in all of the schools over the next two academic years.

A standard lunch in the K-8 schools consists of a hot entree, sandwich, or salad with milk, a vegetable and fruit. At Malden High School, the variety of options is much larger, ranging from pizza and burgers, to nachos and sandwiches, also with milk, a vegetable and fruit. All lunches are provided by Whitsons School Nutrition, which Malden Public Schools switched to in recent years.

This is not the first time lunch prices have gone up in the Malden Public Schools. The cost of a standard lunch in the elementary and middle schools this year is $2.30. Only a few years ago the cost of lunch was just over $2.00. Although, prices in the K-8 schools do not compare to those at MHS. The standard lunch at MHS costs $2.45, but other options such as a trip to the salad bar or new snack bar can cost up to $3.70.

Because of the committee’s vote to increase prices, K-8 students will now have to pay $2.45, the current cost at MHS, for a standard lunch during the 2016 to 2017 academic year. High school students will pay $2.78, or up to $3.80 for a salad or smoothie.

It does not stop there. The committee voted to increase prices over two years, so in the following academic year, 2017 to 2018, K-8 students will pay $2.55 for a standard lunch. High school students will pay $3.05, breaking the two dollar margin for a standard lunch, and up to $3.90 for a specialty item.

This will be a significant financial increase for many students. Malden is part of the National School Lunch Program that reimburses the system for students receiving free or reduced lunches. Even though the city is known for having one of the lowest lunch prices in the area, there is a large amount of students receiving some form of discounted lunch. Student representative James Mac, a junior at MHS, was surprised to hear this, but thought making these changes over a longer period of time was a more “effective” approach to take for the students good. The impact of the committee’s decision to increase lunch prices will begin to become evident next year, and even more so the following year.

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