APS to Cover Costs of Reduced-Price Meals
7,000 additional students will receive meals at no cost this year.
August 10, 2012
More than 7,000 Albuquerque Public Schools students who typically receive school breakfast and lunch at a reduced cost under the federal school meals program will not have to pay at all this year, as the district will cover the charges. Students who already qualify for free meals will continue to receive them.
“We’re thrilled that APS is able to offer meals at no cost this year to additional students whose families continue to struggle in a difficult economy,” Brooks said. “We all know how important a full stomach is to a student’s ability to focus and learn in class. Hunger isn’t something they should have to worry about.”
Brooks made the announcement at Grant Middle School, which has one of the highest percentages of students who qualify for reduced-price—but not free—meals among APS middle schools. District-wide, about 62 percent of APS students qualify for the federal school meals program, which provides breakfast and lunch free or at a reduced cost to families, depending on financial need.
It is expected to cost the district between $300,000 and $400,000 to cover the meal costs. Funding has been freed because APS Food & Nutrition Services is now paying its own indirect costs like electricity and natural gas for cooking that the district used to pay.
The reduced price for meals has been 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. The full price this year is $1.15 for breakfast, $1.95 for elementary student lunch and $2.20 for secondary student lunch. That’s up 10 cents from last year. Federal legislation signed in 2010 increased the amount the government reimburses school districts for meals, but also required them to increase their own prices over the next few years. The trade-off is more funds going into higher nutritional standards.
“The benefit for students is a healthier breakfast and lunch,” said Mary Swift, director of Food & Nutrition Services. “There will be more whole grains, fruits and vegetables in school meals. Healthier meals translate into students who can achieve more in the classroom because of better nutrition.”
In addition, the APS Education Foundation has announced it will put in $5,000 to pay off past account balances of 1,146 students who receive reduced-price meals.
“Lunch debt is treated much the same as library fines and schools may restrict students from certain activities until their balance is paid,” said Phill Casaus, executive director of APSEF. “Now, students can start school with a clean slate.”