The second-largest school district in the state of California has been put on notice by the federal government - raise the price of school lunches or lose funding for its meal reimbursement program.
The price change for school lunches was approved Tuesday by trustees of the San Diego Unified School District.
Following an audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the district learned the cost of paid school lunches must be raised for the 2016-2017 school year.
The cost of a school lunch will rise $.25 beginning in the fall. For elementary school students, each meal will jump from $2.00 to $2.25. For middle and high school students, meal prices will increase from $2.50 to $2.75.
For the entire school year, the additional cost per student will be $45, Gary Petill, Director of School Nutrition Services said.
According to the USDA's paid meal equity lunch calculation, the district is not taking in enough revenue from students who can afford to pay for their lunches.
Each free student reimbursement claim is $3.19.
"The government doesn’t want to see taxpayers subsidizing the paid meals," Petill said.
This would be the first rise in meal prices in eight years, he added.
The school board approved the price increase at Tuesday night's meeting.
School lunches are regulated by the USDA, overseeing how much sodium, protein, fats and carbohydrates are served per meal.