When Dorchester District Two students return to school Aug. 18, they’ll be paying 10 cents more for breakfast and lunch — but they’ll also be getting healthier meals, officials said.
This year elementary, middle and high school regular breakfast will be $1.15 and reduced-price breakfast will be 30 cents.
At elementary and middle schools the regular lunch will cost $1.70 and reduced lunch will be 40 cents. At high schools the regular lunch will be $1.80 and the reduced lunch will be 40 cents.
Ray Bahadori, director of nutrition for the district, said per the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, school food authorities should adjust their meal prices annually to reach the weighted average set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For 2014-2015 the average is $2.65 nationwide, but schools can choose to increase their prices on a small fraction; DD2 does an increase of 10 cents per year.
Bahadori said DD2 has the lowest meal price in the Lowcountry; Charleston is $1.40 for breakfast and $2.25 for lunch and Berkeley is $1.25 for breakfast and $2 for lunch.
Bahodori added school lunches are becoming very healthy because the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act sets the standard and requirements for lunch and breakfast as to how much fat, calories, sodium and saturated fat should be in a meal and the minimum and maximum calories for each grade level.
“Some of the requirements for whole grain and vegetables and fresh fruit has been more of the topics of discussion in the media,” Bahadori said. “For example all bread we serve has to be whole grain and students have to receive 1 cup of fruit or vegetable on a daily basis. A variety of dark leafy vegetables and legumes and beans has to be served every week.
“The meal price is still very low compared with the smallest meal that you purchase from restaurants so it is not a big burden on the family to have to pay a $1.80 for lunch and the kids to receive a healthy meal complete with milk, fruit, vegetable and entrée,” he added. “Where can you find any meal at this price?”
This year schools are being mandated nationwide to reduce the amount of sodium in the food and maintain the amount of calories. Bahadori said DD2 has been doing that since 2012.
“DD2 has always been a leader in all aspects of the schools,” he said.