NORTH PROVIDENCE – The cost of school lunches in North Providence is likely to increase soon.

This week’s School Committee meeting includes a request to bump the price of school lunches between five and 20 cents.

School Finance Director Lisa Casinelli said the lunch price increases are necessary to meet compliance requirements for “paid lunch equity.”

“Under this provision, the School Department is required to ensure that sufficient funds are provided to its school food service program from lunches served to students who are not eligible for free or reduced price meals,” she explained.

The district must compare the weighted price for paid lunches to the targeted weighted average price, or the difference between the per-meal federal reimbursement for free meals and paid lunches.

If the weighted price is lower than the targeted weighted average price, school districts are required to make changes.

Casinelli said the district’s food service provider, Chartwells, had been making slight increases pre-pandemic. The past two years, however, school meals have been free in this district and elsewhere.

Pre-pandemic, reduced-price breakfast and lunch was 40 cents, full-pay breakfast was 85 cents, and full-pay lunch was $2.55 for elementary students. Full-pay lunch was $1.10 for middle school students, and $2.80 for high school students.

“This is our first increase request since prior to the pandemic,” she said.

The School Department is also looking to purchase new registers for the cafeteria. Casinelli said the upgrades are long overdue.

“Prior to the pandemic, many registers were not operating at all, and the others were needing repairs. These will all be paid for from the food service fund,” she said.

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