Olentangy Local School District students will have to spend a little more change on their lunch next school year.

Olentangy Local School District students will have to spend a little more change on their lunch next school year.

The Olentangy school board last Thursday, May 19, unanimously voted to approve a 15-cent increase to the cost of lunches effective July 1 at buildings throughout the district.

After the change goes into effect, student lunches will cost $2.40 at district elementary schools, $2.65 at at middle schools and $2.90 at high schools.

Bethany Lenko, the district's food service director, last week said the change stems from Olentangy's participation in the National School Lunch Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was created in the 1940s to reimburse schools and other institutions that offer free or reduced-price meals to children.

Lenko said program guidelines require districts to gradually increase their average lunch prices until they equal or exceed the amount federal government reimburses per meal.

"What makes this provision a little tricky is that reimbursement each year increases, so we're always trying to catch a moving target," she said.

In 2015-16, the federal government reimbursed the district $3.07 for every free meal it served in its buildings, but less for reduced-price meals.

Lenko said the USDA gives districts a formula to determine how much prices must increase to make their pricing structures acceptable.

She said the increased prices are expected to bring in an additional $200,000 in revenue for the district. That money, she said, will be used to cover departmental expenses and make up for lost revenue if the district uses a high number of calamity days.

Lenko said the price increases do not put Olentangy out of step with other central Ohio districts.

"Even with that 15-cent increase, we're still very affordable in comparison (to other area districts)," she said.