Sunday, October 11, 2015

Losing money quickly? The truth behind cafeteria prices & how you can save

Justin Fischetti
Staff Writer

If you have bought lunch from the school cafeteria, it is likely that at some point you thought that you were overpaying, especially over the past couple years. Maybe you saw your account money continue to tank quickly every school day. The truth is, you are right - partly.
  vWhile indeed the prices of the menu items from the cafeteria can get a bit pricey, there is a little trick that can help save you quite a bit of cash.
  The prices of lunch items vary from one another depending on their category. Side entrees, such as fries and rice, cost only 85 cents, but main entrees, such as pizza and chicken nuggets, cost $2.60. Many students in the past may have bought only a main entree and a side entree, but may have been surprised to see the price climb up to near $3.50.
  Since you will also probably buy a drink, you may be thinking that this is just unfair overpricing. However, there is a trick not all students are aware of that can help you save money: the discounts. There is a very helpful discount within the school lunch system. In order to get this discount, you must buy a full meal at lunch. This meal consists of a main and side entree, a drink, and (what students typically miss) a ½ cup of a fruit or vegetable. If you buy these four items, you will pay only $3.10 for the meal, saving well over a dollar as a result.
  Some students are unaware of this discount and assume a full meal will be too pricey. If you add just a few healthy fruits or vegetables on the side, you could be saving more money than you think. Even if you aren’t into that healthy stuff, you can easily ignore the fruits or vegetables and eat the rest of your meal at a lower cost.
  You may be wondering how the lunch management comes up with the lunch item prices. The school district’s Food Service Director Kim Keller explained: “School lunch prices are regulated through the state and federal government through something called school lunch equity. Prices are based on state averages and the economy's inflation.”
  This means that the school lunch prices are in a way controlled by the government, so not much can be done to change them. Only the snack items, such as cookies and ice cream, are determined by the school.
  By offering a discount for a full, healthy lunch with fruits or vegetables included, the program wants to encourage students to eat healthy.

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