NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Following the lead of the Northborough and Southborough K-8 school committees, the Regional School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept a 25-cent price increase for school lunches at Algonquin Regional High School.
Student lunches will cost $2.75 at the beginning of the next school year. Staff lunches will also increase to $3.50, up from $3.25.
"Our food costs ... have gone up tremendously," Food Service Director Maura Feeley said. "I think our increase is quite modest that we're asking for."
Committee members agreed, approving the increase without asking any questions.
In recent weeks, Feeley had made a more detailed case for the new pricing.
New federal regulations mandate healthier cafeteria foods and limit fats, salts and sugars. In one of Feeley's examples, the federal government will soon require all breads, pastas and other baked goods served in schools to be at least 50 percent whole grain.
Some new costs, however, are voluntary. Feeley has spoken highly of plans to purchase more fresh produce from local sources and to increase variety in lunch menus.
At Algonquin, she said, the cafeteria has been hosting food tastings for the past few months to better gauge student tastes. The school also has run a survey of the senior class, and is preparing another for freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
The price increase will help keep the district's school lunch program in the black, according to a recent memo written by Business Director Cheryl Levesque, who said the program is closer to running a deficit than ever before.
She also pointed out that Algonquin's new prices will still be comparable to — and in many cases lower than — lunch prices at nearby high schools. Student lunches cost $3 at Westborough High School, for example, and $3.25 at Shrewsbury High School.