At its May 24 meeting, the Olentangy school board approved plans to increase prices for lunches at all schools next year to conform to a new federal mandate.

At its May 24 meeting, the Olentangy school board approved plans to increase prices for lunches at all schools next year to conform to a new federal mandate.

Next year, school lunches will cost $2.25 at elementary schools and $2.50 at middle schools and high schools -- prices that make it easier for cashiers to provide change.

Currently, lunches cost $2.05 at the elementary level and $2.30 at the middle school and high school levels.

The board chose a "rip-off-the-Band-Aid" approach, raising prices to the necessary level all at once instead of spreading the increase over two years.

That will help to avoid overlap with the 2013-14 school year, when school breakfast prices must be increased under the same mandate.

School board members said they support the one-year plan so breakfast buyers won't face two price increases at once, she said.

Far fewer students eat breakfast at school than lunch, but many do rely on it every morning.

Under the federal mandate, districts must increase the cost of full-price lunches to help pay for free and reduced-price lunches for students of economically disadvantaged families.

The law forces school districts to fully recoup the cost of reduced-price lunches so that full-price lunches don't have to be partially subsidized and tax dollars can be targeted more directly at families in need.

The mandate says the price hike must take place by the 2013-14 school year.