Aug 8, 2011 11:43 PM by Maddie Garrett
As school bells ring later this month for the first day of classes, students in St. Martin Parish will be shelling out more money for school meals. The school system said the rise in prices is due to budget shortfalls, but some parents think the increase is too much.
$2.45 doesn't seem like much for a meal, but when it's for a child's school lunch everyday, that change adds up -- to the tune of $431.20 a year.
"Over the last few years we've seen several other parishes go up on their prices, we had not gone up on our prices in quite a while," said St. Martin Parish Schools Superintendent Richard Lavergne.
Lavergne said raising school meal prices was a tough decision.
"You hate to do it, no one wants to do it," he said.
But he explained it had to be done to offset $4.6 million in budget cuts, that also included teacher layoffs and other cut backs.
"The federal government gives us "X" amount of dollars, and they have not gone up on their increases. And if you take a look at the price of food and the cost to bring that food in, all of those are going up," said Lavergne.
Both the full cost of breakfast and lunch will more than double in price. Breakfast is rising from 70 cents to a $1.50, and lunch will be up from $1.00 to $2.45. But students on a free or reduced meal plan won't see any increases, and they account for more than 70% of St. Martin public school students.
None of the parents we spoke to Monday were willing to go on camera to talk about the price increases. But a lot of people were voicing their opinions on KATC's Facebook Page.
Many parents called the increase "ridiculous", saying school meals are "not worth the price." And many people said "reduced meal prices should go up too."
"But still, it's one of the cheapest ways to eat, no doubt. That you can go and get the kind of meal where you can get an entree, some vegetables and generally a type of fruit or something," said Lavergne.
Lavergne also added that those fresh fruits and vegetables cost more.