How much does breakfast and lunch cost in your Greater Columbus school district?

·3 min read
Rows of fruit cups and other snacks for student lunches are shown in the kitchen at Grove City High School on Jan. 19.
Rows of fruit cups and other snacks for student lunches are shown in the kitchen at Grove City High School on Jan. 19.

For the first time in more than two years, students will once again be paying for school meals as they return to the classroom this month.

Congress previously allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement child nutrition waivers in March 2020, which allowed schools to be reimbursed at higher rates for serving free food to all students, regardless of family income. That program expired June 30.

“We are really disappointed that families are going to have to start paying again,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association. “We are very concerned there will be families who could really use a helping hand that fall through the cracks.”

She said she is especially concerned about those who don’t qualify for free or reduced-price meals but who are still struggling to feed their families.

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“We are really worried there will be a lot of kids who could benefit from a meal but don’t take one because they know the family can’t afford it,” she said.

Free or reduced-price meals will only be available to families who qualify based on financial needs.

Millions of students can't afford to buy a full-price school lunch. A 2019 survey by the School Nutrition Association found 75% of school districts in America have unpaid school meal debt.

What school meals will cost in your child's district

Here is a roundup of how much school meals cost at Greater Columbus school districts:

Students at Walnut Springs Middle School in Westerville receive chicken finger baskets during lunch in January.
Students at Walnut Springs Middle School in Westerville receive chicken finger baskets during lunch in January.

Bexley City Schools:

  • Breakfast: $2.65

  • Elementary school lunch: $3.70

  • Middle and high school lunches: $3.95

Canal Winchester Local School District:

  • Grades 1-12 breakfast: $1.50

  • Grades 1-5 lunch: $2.50

  • Grades 6-12 lunch: $3

Columbus City Schools: Free breakfast and lunch is provided to students.

Dublin City Schools:

  • Breakfast: $1:50

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.55

  • Middle school lunch: $2.80

  • High school lunch: $2.95

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools: 

  • K-12 breakfast: $1.50

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.75

  • Middle and high school lunches: $3

Grandview Heights City Schools: 

  • Breakfast: $2.50

  • Elementary and middle school lunches: $3.25

  • High school lunch: $3.75

Groveport Madison Local School District: 

  • Breakfast: free

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.65

  • Middle school lunch: $2.90

  • High school lunch: $3

Hamilton Local Schools:

  • Breakfast: free

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.25

  • Intermediate lunch: $2.50

  • Middle school lunch: $2.75

  • High school lunch: $3

Hilliard City Schools: 

  • Breakfast: $1.25

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.50

  • Secondary lunch: $2.75

New Albany-Plain Local School District: 

  • Breakfast: $1.50

  • Early Learning Center and primary lunches: $2.50

  • Intermediate lunch: $2.65

  • Middle school lunch: $2.75

  • High school lunch: $3.50

Olentangy Local School District:

  • Breakfast: $1.50

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.50

  • Middle school lunch: $2.75

  • High school lunch: $3/$3.50

Pickerington Local School District: 

  • Breakfast: $1.80

  • Elementary and middle school lunches: $3.25

  • Junior high and high school lunches: $3.50

Reynoldsburg City Schools: 

  • Breakfast: $1.50

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.75

  • Middle school lunch: $3.25

  • High school: $3.50

South-Western City School District: 

  • Breakfast: $1

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.60

  • Intermediate and middle school lunches: $2.80

  • High school lunch: $3

Upper Arlington City School District: 

  • Elementary school lunch: $3

  • Middle school lunch options: $3.25, $3.75

  • High school lunch options: $4.25, $4.75

Whitehall City Schools: The district did not respond to The Dispatch's request for meal prices, but its website indicates all students get "a healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no charge," thanks to the USDA's Community Eligibility Provision for districts in low-income areas.

Worthington City Schools: 

  • Breakfast: $1.60

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.75

  • Middle and high school lunches: $3

Westerville City Schools:

  • Elementary school breakfast: $1.25

  • Middle and high school breakfasts: $1.50

  • Elementary school lunch: $2.75

  • Middle and high school lunches: $3

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: What will school meals cost in Columbus-area districts this year?