School lunch prices on the rise


POSTED: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 9:40am

UPDATED: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 11:24am

With youngsters across the country heading back to school, parents have already seen sticker shock on clothing and supplies. Now, there's something else that adds to the expenses.

The American Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Marketbasket Survey found the total average price for 16 food items is up about 8 percent compared to one year ago. "Just vegetables and fruit, that's the one that hurts the most," says father of two Greg Pattoukian. Popular school lunch items like sliced ham, bread, milk and apples are among those that saw a significant increase.

Another survey by Deloitte shows parents re-calculating and re-thinking. "I think Mom will be very aware of sales and coupons," says Deloitte Research's Mary Delk. "We've also seen them making lists. So, when Mom goes to the store, she's going to buy what she needs and not necessarily add anything else to the basket"

Still, a healthy home packed lunch containing a sandwich, fruit and vegetables can be had for just over $2. Nutritionists say that proves an important point. "I think you can eat healthy on a limited budget. You don't always have to do the more convenient option," says registered dietitian Misha Biden.

Some analysts won't be surprised, though, to see grocers slash prices if parents keep selecting the least expensive products.

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