Dixon students could be paying more for school lunches in 2022-23

Food service proposes 5% increase, which is below the anticipated increase of 8% to 11%

Marc Campbell, business manager for Dixon Public Schools, provides information Wednesday to the board of education on the tax levy request that will be made to the clerks in Lee and Ogle counties.

DIXON — Breakfast and lunch at Dixon Public Schools could cost more in 2022-23, according to food service contract that is up for a vote Wednesday at the regular board meeting.

The meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday at the administrative office on Franklin Grove Road.

Inflation for food, fuel, and foodstuff packaging and an increase in employee wages because of Illinois state law requirements for minimum wage and insurance are driving up costs, documentation from meals provider Arbor Management showed.

Under the proposal, student breakfasts will increase 20 cents to $1. The elementary lunch will go up a dime to $2.70. The middle school-high school lunch will also go up 10 cents to $2.75. An adult lunch increases 15 cents to $3.20.

Reduced price meals will remain at current levels: 30 cents for breakfast, 40 cents for lunch and 60 cents for milk.

Arbor Management, which has been the district’s food service provider since 2015-16, will extend its contract one year and is applying a 5% increase to its bid.

That 5% increase is low compared with trending costs, a brief from district business manager Marc Campbell read.

Arbor, which is based in Itasca, said it expects the cost of food will increase 8% to 11% during the coming school year. This is on top of the consumer price index report that showed the “at home” price of foodstuffs increased 7.4% in 2021 — the largest over-the-year increase since 2008.

Since August 2021, Arbor says canned fruits have increased in price 13% to 30%, chicken is up 20% to 35%, pork is up 11% to 24%, beef is up 11% to 20% and fresh citrus is up 16.5% — which doesn’t account for the fact this coming year could see one of the smallest crops in recent U.S. history.

The Illinois State Board of Education is allowing districts to petition for one-year extension of their food contracts because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campbell said the district applied for and received that waiver — provided a competitive bid process for food vendors takes place for the 2023-24 school year.

Other business: The board will also administer the oath of office to Kathleen Schaefer, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the board. She will serve through May 2023. The board will also vote on a new slate of officers, as the vice-president’s position is vacant because of the change.

The superintendent’s report will include a report on Reagan Middle School promotion, which will be 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 27 and Dixon High School graduation, which will be 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29.

Rock Falls

Rock Falls High School’s board of education will meet in regular session on Wednesday. It is scheduled to vote on revisions to the student handbook and personnel items resulting from the closed session. Graduation is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.