The price of school lunches in the Fountain Valley School District will be increased starting today to offset increases in food costs and in staff salaries and benefits.
District trustees approved a 15-cent increase, which will boost the lunch price to $1.50. Students had been paying $1.35 since the last increase in 1989.
"It's my feeling as a parent that I'd rather pay a higher price and get better quality food," board member Barbara Vogel said during Thursday's vote.
But although the higher price is partially meant to continue providing quality food, the bulk of the almost $24,000 expected to be generated by the increase will go to state-mandated benefits for part-time employees.
Effective today, Social Security and Medicare coverage must be made available for part-time employees not covered by the district's retirement fund, which will raise the cost of the district's food service program by $15,000 a year. Twelve of the district's 18 food service employees will be eligible for the new benefits.
Also, the program's staff has had a 2.5% salary increase since 1989, district officials said.
Food service supervisor Dianne Sharp said that because the department is self-supporting, the increase was warranted to avoid dipping into the school district's general fund.
Several surrounding districts, including Ocean View in Huntington Beach and Newport-Mesa Unified, also have proposed increases to $1.50 per lunch.
The program serves lunch to an average of 1,800 students daily at the district's 11 schools.