Keller — Keller district students will continue to face higher prices for lunches over the next few years, not because of rising costs but because of a federal law.At the April board meeting, trustees approved a 10 cent increase in both elementary and secondary lunch prices to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.School districts receive federal funds for every school lunch, $2.86 for a student who qualifies for a free lunch and 27 cents for a paying student. According to the law, districts must charge on average the difference between the free reimbursement rate and the paid rate, or $2.59.The current Keller ISD average price is $2.40. Elementary and intermediate students pay $2.35 while secondary students pay $2.50.District officials have been raising prices by 5 or 10 cent increments for the past three years.“We don’t want to do it all in one fell swoop,” Trustee Cindy Lotton said.Chris Maggard, director of child nutrition, said that next year’s average price will still be below $2.59. Districts don’t have to achieve the mark all at once but must show they are making progress towards the target price. Prices must keep moving up as the reimbursement rate increases, Maggard said.Also at the April 18 board meeting, trustees unanimously approved renewing the contract with Sodexo to manage the district’s child nutrition program.Board President Kevin Stevenson called Sodexo “a true partner.”Since Sodexo took over as food service provider five years ago, the Child Nutrition Fund Balance has grown from $1.2 million to $4.7 million. As part of the 2013-14 contract, Sodexo guarantees the district a return of $850,000 to the fund.District officials plan to use part of the Child Nutrition Fund Balance to add a kitchen to the New Directions Learning Center. Money in that fund can only go towards improvements to the child nutrition program.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland