For the first time in six years, student meal prices to increase for 2019-2020 school year

7/3/2019 | TACOMA, Washington

Meal prices will rise 25 cents for breakfasts and lunches next school year under a pricing proposal approved by the Tacoma School Board at its June 27 meeting.

Tacoma Public Schools hasn't raised breakfast or lunch prices since 2013.

From 1990 to 2008, the district raised meal rates between 15 and 25 cents every two to four years. Since then, however, the district has raised rates only twice: 25 cents in 2008, and 25 cents in 2013. This is the longest the district has ever gone without an increase in the price of school meals.

Under the new pricing structure, K-12 breakfast prices will increase by 25 cents to $1.90, and elementary and secondary lunch prices will increase by 25 cents to $3 and $3.25 respectively for the 2019-20 school year.

In a price comparison conducted prior to the Board’s vote, TPS ranked in the bottom third of meal prices among the top 10 districts in the state and in a similar comparison with school districts in the region. 

One reason for making this change now comes from a U.S. Department of Agriculture meal pricing formula that determines how much the USDA will reimburse a school district for free and reduced-price meals for low-income students. According to that formula, the federal government won’t allow its reimbursement payments to subsidized paid student lunches. Without making a price increase now of at least 9 cents per meal, the district would have had to use local levy funds to help pay for student meals. With the new prices, the USDA will fully reimburse the district for costs for students who receive free and reduced-price meals.

In addition, the price increase will help keep up with the inflationary costs of food and labor.