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School lunch bill is going up

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HARTINGTON — The School lunch program was a big topic of discussion at Monday's Hartington-Newcastle School Board meeting.

The Board agreed to raise lunch prices by 10 cents for everyone from elementary students to teachers and staff. The Board also accepted a five-cent per carton bid increase in the price of milk from Hiland Dairy.

HNS Supt. A.J. Johnson noted next school year will mark the first time since the 2019-20 school year that students will have to pay for their own meals.

The federal government had been providing free school lunches to public school children as part of its pandemic relief aid, but that funding has now ended, Johnson said.

The school was being reimbursed for the meals at $4 per meal — a higher rate than the school actually charges, so the school currently has a "healthy school lunch program budget," Johnson said.

Because of the surplus, Board member Ian Lange said he'd like to keep the price hike as low as possible, and suggested a 10 cent increase instead of the 15-cent increase being considered, a motion approved unanimously by the board.

Board members were also informed Monday that bids for the school addition project are expected to be opened June 24.

The bids were originally slated to be opened in early June, but that date had to be pushed back.