Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Losing Money Quickly? The Truth Behind The School Cafeteria Prices

Justin Fischetti
Staff Writer

If you have bought lunch from the school cafeteria, it is likely that at some point you thought that you were overpaying, especially over the past couple years. Maybe you saw your account money continue to tank quickly every school day. The truth is, you are right - partly. While indeed, the prices of the menu items from the cafeteria can get a bit pricey, there is a little trick that can help save you quite a bit of cash.
 The prices of lunch items vary from one another depending on their category. Side entrees, such as fries and rice, cost only 85 cents, but main entrees, such as pizza and chicken nuggets, cost $2.60. Many students in the past may have bought only a main entree and a side entree, but may have been surprised to see the price climb up to near $3.50.
 Since you will also will probably buy a drink to go along with the buy, you may be thinking that this is just unfair overpricing. Well, yes, you would be right. However, there is a trick not all students are aware of that can help you save money; the discounts. There is a very helpful discount within the school lunch system. In order to get this discount, you must buy a full meal at lunch. This meal consists of a main and side entree, a drink, and, what students typically miss, a ½ cup of a fruit or vegetable. If you buy these four items, you will need to pay only $3.10 for the meal, saving well over a dollar as a result.
 Some students seem unaware of this discount and assume a full meal will be too pricey, when, if you just a little bit of healthy fruits or vegetables on the side, you could be saving more money than you think. Even if you aren’t into that healthy stuff, you can easily ignore the fruits or vegetables and eat the rest of your meal.
 You may be wondering how the lunch management comes up with the lunch item prices and what is behind the reason for the discount. School District Food Service Director Kim Keller explains the reasoning in an interview:
 “School lunch prices are regulated through the state and federal government through something called school lunch equity. Prices are based on state averages and the economy's inflation”.
 This means that the school lunch prices are in a way controlled by the government, so not much can be done to change them. Only the snack items, such as cookies and ice cream, are determined by the school.
 Also mentioned in the interview is how the National School Lunch program offers a discount if students buy a full, healthy lunch with fruits or vegetables included, which explains the discount; the program wants to encourage students to eat healthy!

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