A school lunch will cost an extra dime and breakfast an extra nickel for the 2017-18 school year in the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools.

The school board approved the price increases July 13.

"The board takes it very seriously when we're presented a need to increase fees to families," said Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, board president. "We appreciate the hard work of our food services staff to keep school lunch increases as infrequent and minimal as possible."

Linda Green, the district's child nutrition supervisor, said meal pricing must be at least the difference between the free and paid reimbursement rate of $2.86 to comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations.

Gahanna's average plate lunch price was $2.78.

Based on USDA regulations, increasing the plate lunch pricing by 10 cents, from $2.65 to 2.75 for elementary students, and from $2.90 to $3 for middle and high school students, will make the district compliant, Green said.

Plate lunch pricing was last increased in 2016-17.

She said breakfast for grades K-12 has increased from $1.45 to $1.50, and breakfast pricing also increased for the 2016-17 school year.

The district served 638,893 plate lunches last school year.

A plate lunch consists of a protein, whole grains, a vegetable, fruit and milk, according to Green.

Gahanna-Jefferson school kitchens also served 126,501 breakfasts last year.

"It's so important for students to start their day fueled with nutrients," Green said.

She said Gahanna Lincoln High School has a variety of food choices within its five lunch lines.

The "Mane Dish" serves favorites such as chicken tenders, pasta, chicken nuggets, buffalo chicken sandwiches, calzones and fish sandwiches.

The "Sub-Wich" line features grilled chicken breast sandwiches, hamburgers, veggie burgers and subs from Bellacino's Pizza and Grinders and Donatos.

Green said students find a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit on the salad buffet, along with proteins such as yogurt, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, tuna salad, turkey, chili and vegetarian chili.

An Asian chicken bowl, breakfast bowl and Mexican bowl are available on a "Build-A-Bowl" line.

Green said the most popular line most days is the "Pizza, Pizza" line.

"We serve Donatos on Mondays, Romeo's on Wednesdays and Jet's Pizza on Fridays," she said. "Our famous Big Lion Primo pizza is baked fresh with options of cheese, pepperoni, veggie, buffalo chicken and barbecue chicken on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Green said students can help themselves to the fresh fruit and vegetables on all five serving lines.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla