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School lunch prices increase for first time since 1995

DALLAS (AFPN) -- The price of a "full-priced meal" served in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service overseas school meal program will increase by 10 cents for the 2004 to 2005 school year -- the first increase in nine years.

This year's price adjustment is necessary to cover recent increases in food, labor and transportation costs, AAFES officials said. The free, reduced-price (40 cents) and breakfast meals, which constitute 40 percent of meals served in AAFES school cafeterias, will not be affected. Elementary school student meals will be $2.05 and middle- and high-school meals will be $2.20. AAFES officials said they will continue to review the pricing policy annually to ensure the program is running on a break-even basis. In comparison, some schools throughout the United States are raising breakfast and lunch prices by as much as $1.

"Our mandate is to provide these meals on a break-even basis,” said Army Maj. Gen. Kathryn Frost, AAFES commander. “Since AAFES does not generate any earnings from the school meal program, raising the prices is the only way to sustain the program. As much as we hate to raise these prices, this modest increase is in the best interest of the school meal program.

“AAFES will continue to work with (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and Department of Defense Education Activity to improve this program and to look for efficiency and economy, ultimately containing the cost as much as possible while continuing to provide a wide variety of nutritious meals to our students," General Frost said.

AAFES, as the school food authority for DOD overseas schools, provides USDA-approved school meals to students on Army and Air Force installations in 10 countries throughout Europe and the Pacific. Each year, this program serves about 4.5 million lunches in 136 schools.

AAFES school meal daily menus are posted for review at http://odin.aafes.com/nutrition/default.asp. Parents and students can forward comments and suggestions on the Web site directly to the AAFES staff dietitian, Maj. John Ruibal.

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