Baltimore County students, who already face some of the highest school lunch prices in the metropolitan area, will pay an additional 5 cents this fall under an increase the school board approved unanimously last night.
The price of an elementary school lunch will increase to $1.45; secondary school lunches will go to $1.55. A la carte entrees will go up to $1.50, and the larger, Big Bite entree will cost $1.
Prices on other a la carte items, including fruits, vegetables and french fries, as well as desserts, beverages and such foods as bagels and popcorn, will not increase.
No other system in the area charges more than $1.30 for an elementary school lunch or $1.40 for secondary school youngsters.
Officials said the increase for Baltimore County students results from several forces:
*Higher food and supply costs.
*A reduction in commodities such as flour, shortening and honey that were provided free by the federal government as part of agricultural subsidy programs.
*A $92,000 reduction in state funding for free and reduced-price meals, and up to $30,000 in additional projected cuts for this winter.
*Cuts in the general county school budget and an expected increase of 3,400 students in the system this fall.
*A policy decision to make the Department of Food and Nutrition Services self-supporting. Until now, the department was funded, and in effect subsidized, by the system's general operating budget.
David B. Patterson, acting director for DFNS, said the nickel increase will hardly offset the $1 million the department lost to the operating budget to fund the county's all-day kindergarten program. Mr. Patterson said the county's high prices relative to other subdivisions could be attributed to the lack of school board subsidies.
"I can't speak for other counties because I don't know," he said. "We stand or fall on our own."
Last year, 4.3 million regular lunches were sold in county schools, bringing in $6.14 million. The 5-cent increase will bring the system an additional $235,000 during the coming school year.
Baltimore County last raised its lunch prices two years ago. Most other jurisdictions increased their prices last year and will not raise them again this fall.
COST OF A SCHOOL LUNCH
3' District...... Elem. ..... Second.
Anne Arundel..... $1.10 ..... $1.10
Baltimore City.... 1.00 ...... 1.25
Baltimore Co. .... 1.45 ...... 1.55
Carroll........... 1.10 ...... 1.25
Harford........... 1.30 ...... 1.40
Howard............ 1.00 ...... 1.25