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Government, Politics & Issues

Hartzler wants local control of school lunch prices

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U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, Mo., is sponsoring legislation she says will allow some school districts to avoid a federal requirement to increase the cost of student lunches. The National School Lunch Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helps students who don’t qualify for free or reduced lunches to get a good meal, but the program requires participating schools to charge at least a threshold price of $2.70. 

“Under current regulations, even those schools with lunch programs operating in the black would be required to raise their prices to meet the federally mandated price,” says Hartzler.  “Doing so may very well price some families out of the program, driving participation in the school lunch program down further than it already is.”

Hartzler argues that local school officials are in the best position to determine lunch prices for their students.  Her bill would not apply to districts that don’t fully cover the costs of their lunch programs.  

Hartzler sees the issue as one of local control in place of federal mandates and on that point she has support from Melissa Randol, executive director of Missouri’s school board association.  “Local school boards and administrators are in the best position to determine what students and their parents can pay for full-priced school meals.”

The Missouri Association of School Administrators is also backing the bill as a way to reduce federal regulations.  “This legislation is a necessary piece of regulator relief schools need in so many areas of federal education policy,” said Mike Lodewegen, the group’s Associate Executive Director of Government Affairs.

Before joining Congress, Hartzler taught nutrition for more than a decade to junior and high school students.  

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