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Posted on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Lunch prices to increase this fall at Ypsilanti elementary schools

By Danielle Arndt

Ypsilanti Public Schools officials are hopeful the district’s new, more expensive lunch prices will bring the district one step closer to breaking even in its food services department.


A woman serves a meal to Ypsilanti elementary students in this file photo from The Ann Arbor News. Ypsilanti elementary meal prices will go up slightly this fall.

File photo

The district has lost money through the years on serving food to children. Superintendent Dedrick Martin estimated the annual structural deficit in the food services department is about $80,000. He said the district’s food expenses are greater than its revenues.

Last year, Ypsilanti conducted a review of its prices and determined a slight hike was necessary. Rather than implement one large hike all at once, officials decided to incrementally move prices up, Martin said.

This fall, elementary meal prices will increase from $1.25 to $1.30 for breakfast and from $2.25 to $2.35 for lunch. All other meal prices will remain the same.

“This will get us a little closer to a break even,” Martin said. “Right now, I believe, it might be a little short of the cost per meal (to prepare).”

Prior to the 2011-12 academic year, Ypsilanti had not raised prices since 2007-08.

Ypsilanti Treasurer and Financial Consultant Cathy Secor said it recently was discovered the district had not been using all of its United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) foods, which are called commodities and include fresh produce, grains, beef, chicken and dairy products. Secor said school districts lose whatever they do not use in commodities from year to year.

“This is where we really will reduce our food costs because those things on the commodities list are substantially less than buying canned peaches and pears…” she said.

The school lunch prices below will be effective at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year:

Elementary meal — $2.35
Middle school meal — $2.75
High school meal — $3.00
Breakfast — $1.30
Milk — 50 cents
Adult meal — $4.00

Dexter Community Schools also increased its lunch prices for the upcoming school year. Students will pay 25 cents more per meal at Dexter, making the price of an elementary lunch $2.50 and a middle or high school lunch $2.75.

Superintendent Mary Marshall told the district was required to raise lunch prices to meet new federal mandates, so the district does not expect to be bringing in any additional revenue from the increase. Recently-passed legislation changed how federal subsidies for free and reduced lunch students could be disbursed, leading to the increase, Marshall said.

Ypsilanti school board members, who approved the 5-cent increase Monday night, said they are eager to see the savings that will be generated this year. Vice President Kira Berman asked about the free and reduced-price meals for low income students. Martin said the administration will recommend an increase to these prices as well, but that the proposal will be brought back to the board at a later meeting date.

Ypsilanti had 2,341 students, or 64 percent of its total student body, qualify for free or reduced-price meals in 2011.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

the $ 273 000 000 give to U of M. should bee given back to the k-12 schools...


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

Very funny cost of canned peaches to High! I ?we will trade you our canned peaches,beans, cheese for meat . beef, grain and fresh vegetables . WE SEnior donot get meat, egs, fresh vegetables etc from USDA ... just peanut butter ,cheese canned beans ....oatmeal..we need a change.

Tom Todd

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Wow I did not know that fords,Gm,Chrysler,Home depot,Costco etc were hiring,everyone says that some of these folks need to get a job I think they forget the Economy is in the toilet and some people are getting rich off of paying lower wages.

Tom Todd

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

bottom of the ladder equals free lunch. top of the ladder equals free lunch.

Get over it

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

If you want a job you can find one then climb the ladder you can't start at the top


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

For the cost of a meal, you can actually pack a lunch and save yourself the high calories and fat that Chartwells serves these children who are on the free and reduced lunch. If we want to cut the obesity rate we need to see what is really being served to our children at school. From what I have seen? I would not serve these meals to my dog. I pack a lunch everyday and I make sure it is healthier. Might want to do the math first and then hit the grocery store to start making these meals. You will see a healthy difference. Boycott school lunches. O by the way, Whittaker Road Library is going to show a film on Thursday, September 27 at 6 called Lunch Line. Partnering with Whole Foods Market and the Ypsilanti Food Co-op. I plan to be there to see this film.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

I agree with cinnabar on this one.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

"But free lunches cost $0.00 and reduced around $0.50" Becky us hard working people are paying for those lunches, they are not free. They're are only free to the parents who refuse to work, we have people coming here from Mexico that can't even speak english, yet they are getting jobs and taking care of their own. So why is that so hard for someone you grew up here and speaks english.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Not to get into it here, but parents IMO have food stamps that they can use to feed their children with. Children that go hungry do so because the government is not doing enough to keep these children from doing so. I also want to point out that parents can get a job where they can feed their children but don't. So unless parents get involved the obesity rate goes up because parents refuse to teach their children how to eat proper. I saw on television last nite a boy throwing away food. When asked by the reporter why, he said it was junk and he won't touch it. Good for him.

Becky H

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

If the parents can afford to pay the entire cost of the school lunch, then yes, I agree with you--sending your kid off to school with a homemade lunch is the better, healthier, and possibly cheaper option. But free lunches cost $0.00 and reduced around $0.50, and parents who qualify for either would hard-pressed to pack a healthy meal for their kid for only $0.50. Unfortunately for some of these kids, the high-calorie options at lunch might be the only thing they get to eat that day.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

What I find disturbing is that 64% of the students parent qualify for a free lunch. That's 64% that the gov't feels can't take care of their own kids.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

Since nobody "LIKE" poor people ..You RICH people address your STATE leaders and make them pay the proverty Minium ( 23 000.) or the $ 10 000 that the state get from the fedreal goverment for each CITIZEN that SIGNED THE CENSUS .GIVE each citizen that money direct.. THE LONGST WAR in America"in 1964 President LYndon B. Johnson sign "THE WAR ON PROVERTY"> and STILL NO WINNERS.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

Well ask how many of the children are with fathers /mothers in the military? 20 Million children in america DONOT get there childsupprot checks. Ypsilanti is "NOT POOR" just made by the Elect /big brother/goverment. just check the gas prices alone? When was the minium wages raised to a living wages? Our Vetraens "living" in ypsilanti....dont qualify for Foodstamp/snap.IF is a disgrace to our country to let our vetereans and there families suffer for daily items!1/3 of the foreclosure of Home are the military.and there protecetion of "the 1942 Soldier and Sailor Act" is not KNOW TO JUDGES or the Big BANK..THE big landlord doesnot pay PROPERTY TAX(no UNIVERSITY or hospital are property TAXFREE) .which means the teanate doesnot get there 20% rentrefund from the STATE..and so on and soon..NEHEMIAH 5:6-11 I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. Afetr thinking it over >I called the Nobles and the officials on the carpet.I said "each one of you id gouging his brother"> then I called a big meeting to deal with them.I told them."WE did everything we could to buy back our jewish brothers who had to sell themselves as slaves to foreibners>And now you`re selling thses same brothers back into DEBT slavery! does that mean that we have to buy them backagain? They said nothing.What could they say?I and my brothers and the people working forme have also loaned them money.BUT this gouging then with interset has to stop. Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards. olvie groves, and homes right now.And forgive your claims on their money, grain, new vine and oliveoil. Donot you care what the nation around here, our enemies think of you.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

I hope you donot think the 64% are the low-income people.I work in the Elite schools where the children didnot bring any money for lunch , the school had to call for weeks and pester the RICH parents to give there children lunchmoney ....ALL CHILDREN NEED TO EAT and have FREE LUNCH no matter what.1%=99%...As A country we PAY for killing GUNS.WEAPONS ..wilhe our children suffer, you would be very much discuste with parents ....and lunch money... Hunger has no timetable. Turn your Swords into PLOWshare NOW.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

" I wouldn't assume that just because the parents apply (and qualify) for school lunch assistance, they aren't capable of taking care of their children." Becky I guess we have different ideas of what taking care of children means. "And I don't see the point in saying that these parents "should be ashamed," because 1.) what good does it do? and 2.) most of them probably already DO feel ashamed." Well Becky for 1 shame motivates people, or should, and for 2 they should feel ashamed, by filling out and filing the paper work they want me to pay for their children, in case you don't understand, when they take from me, that is taking food out of my kids mouth. Pay for your kids or don't have them. I should not have to take from my kids, so yours can have a free lunch. I know some are down on their luck and need help, but 64% of the population not being able to care for their children is just crazy.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

LBJ really did wonders to get rid of programs like these.

Becky H

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

The percentage is high because a lot of poor people live in Ypsilanti--rent is cheap there. It's where they can afford to live, so their children go to Ypsilanti schools. They would probably qualify for free/reduced lunch in just about any other school district too. I wouldn't assume that just because the parents apply (and qualify) for school lunch assistance, they aren't capable of taking care of their children. My parents both worked full-time (my dad also had an additional part-time job) when I was growing up, but they had five kids to feed. I qualified for free or reduced lunch in elementary school, and my parents were very grateful for the assistance. But even if the free/reduced lunch program hadn't been available, my parents would have found a way to make sure I was fed. I know this because even though we were dirt poor, I had breakfast and dinner at home every day. We weren't proud of being poor or having to receive handouts, but I really cannot express just how grateful we were for the help. We were lucky that both of my parents were able to work. Other children aren't so lucky. And I don't see the point in saying that these parents "should be ashamed," because 1.) what good does it do? and 2.) most of them probably already DO feel ashamed.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

Never said that Admiral, I just have a hard time believing such a high % of the population are having kids they can't take care. The kids deserve to be fed, the parents should be shamed. And Admiral you just keep on reading into my comments words I never wrote, now that is classy.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Poor kids don't deserve food at school? You stay classy, cinnabar.

Becky H

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Free or reduced. The 64% figure is unique to Ypsilanti and not indicative of qualification rates for the rest of Washtenaw County or all of Michigan, not surprisingly. Ypsilanti *is* comparatively poor (relative to Ann Arbor, especially... see:


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

The prices seem reasonable even with the increase. How are all of the free lunches factored in? Do the "rich" pay for the "poor"?


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Taxes (federal). They pay for the free lunches. They also subsidize the agri-corps that makes the USDA foods so cheap.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

I don't think it's the rich that pays, at least I don't feel rich. More like the working man/woman.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

New federal mandates, those lucky 36% will have to up the ante for those 64% that are getting a free lunch. It was recently discovered the District had a little oversight because they did not use all of the required USDA foods that were needed which incurred less funds for the District from the Federal Government, it would of been nice to know how much money they lost? Sounds like the administration is inline for another pay raise.