Today the Columbia Public School board voted unanimously to raise prices on meals provided to students at Columbia schools with the intent of upgrading the quality of the food they serve children. The increased revenue will be used to purchase more locally-produced fresh foods and vegetables, which are usually produced by smaller, non-industrial farming operations and tend to have more nutritive value.
The Columbia Tribune reports that this policy decision was the result of a grassroots shift in consumer preferences regarding the quality of food in school cafeterias:
Belcher said the added revenue could pay for new equipment for more actual cooking to take place in the district’s kitchens.
He said he proposed the 35-cent jump as a response to the residents who have been demanding more local and healthier food in the schools.
“I keep getting pushed by the public and rightly so,” Belcher said.
School board members agreed. “One thing I hear the most about is school lunches,” board member Ines Segert said.
Belcher also said hiking prices now should help keep the district from going into debt to subsidize its nutrition services as other Missouri school districts have done.
“We have no opposition to bringing fresh foods and trying to increase the quality of foods,” Belcher said.
Addendum: Scott Rowson has more.