While the prices of school lunches at , , and Brighton High School remain the same, the price of lunch at the district's elementary schools rose by 25 cents.
At $2.50, the price of an elementary school lunch is now in line with that of other schools in Livingston and Washtenaw counties.
Richard Browder, Brighton's director of student nutrition, said the increase was avoided for as long as possible.
“With gas prices going up over the last few years, all of our food prices have gone up. But we haven't increased prices since 2004,” Richard Browder, director of student nutrition for Brighton Area Schools, said.
At the recommendation of Browder, the school board voted to increase the price of elementary school lunches after conducting an evaluation of cost, which includes food, labor, and supplies. Last year, the district spent $800,000 on food alone, a sum that amounted to only 40 percent of the total cost.
Due to updated USDA nutrition recommendations, the composition of school lunches will change next year. As a result, the district will see a 15 percent increase in cost. Browder was unable to say whether the price of meals will be effected.
At the same time the USDA is making changes that increase both the cost and price of school lunches, it is making efforts to reduce cost. Cafeterias within Brighton Area Schools operate on the USDA's offer-versus-serve plan, which allows students to choose what goes on their tray. By eliminating waste, the plan reduces cost, and, ultimately, reduces the price of school lunches.
“Traditionally, students went through the lunch line and got all the food on their tray whether they wanted it or not. So much of it was going into the garbage,” Browder said. “The offer-versus-serve principle changes all that.”
The offer-versus-serve plan breaks meals into five components: two ounces of protein, two servings of grain, one half cup of fruit, one half cup of vegetable, eight ounces of liquid milk. In order for a participating school to meet the USDA guidelines, any student who purchases a school lunch must choose at least three of the five components.
Bosco sticks, the most popular of Brighton High's 28 daily school lunch options, easily meet the USDA's nutrition requirements. Served with a tomato-based dipping sauce, the cheese-filled breaksticks amount to two ounces of protein, two servings of grain, and one half cup of vegetables.
One area parent doesn't think that an increase of options is the answer.
“More options made it difficult for my girls to manage their lunch money,” Laurie Tokarski, whose children graduated from Brighton High School in recent years, said. “It was a lot easier when there was one lunch for one price.”