The Fowler School Board on Monday approved an increase in the price of school meals for the 2019-20 school year. The increases are based on recommendations from the Colorado Department of Education and will make meals freely available to students who apply for and are granted free or reduced meal prices.

Fowler School District Treasurer Michael Thomas introduced recommended school meal price raises from the CDE and U.S. Department of Agriculture. He provided a chart to school board members that juxtaposed current meal prices with recommended prices for the 2019-20 school year.

In the 2018-19 school year, students in grades K-12 that were not eligible for free or reduced meal plans paid $1.35 for breakfast, while adult faculty paid $1.95 per breakfast. Students with reduced meal price plans enjoyed breakfast for free.

Lunch prices were a little more varied: students in grades K-3 paid $1.95, 4-6 grades paid $2.10, and 7-8 grades paid $2.25. Students with reduced meal plans received free lunches up to 8th grade.

In 9-12 grade, students paid $2.25 for lunches in 2018-19, while students with reduced meal price plans paid 40 cents. Adults paid $2.85 per lunch.

"Under the reduced prices, USDA says breakfast has to have 30 cents paid for," said Thomas. "Each lunch has to have 40 cents paid for."

For the 2018-19 school year, the state covered the costs for breakfast, as well as lunch up to 8th grade.

"This last legislative session ... they said okay for the lunches, it's going to be K-12," said Thomas. "If they're reduced, the student will not be responsible for anything, the state will pick that up."

Under the new price structure for the 2019-20 school year, K-12 students on reduced meal price plans will not be obligated to pay anything for breakfasts or lunches, regardless of what grade they're in.

Conversely, students not on a reduced meal price plan will pay 15 cents more for breakfasts, or $1.50, and 15 cents more for lunches.

The new prices for students who pay standard lunch prices are:

K-3: $2.10 4-6: $2.25 7-8: $2.40 9-12: $2.40

Adults would pay 10 cents more for breakfast, or $2.05, and 20 cents more for lunch, $3.05.

Thomas said the pricing structure was a big advantage for free and reduced students to apply for and that it was a "win-win" for the school district.

"We try to impress that upon people, that if they would apply, that would be great," said Thomas.

Prices were previously raised 10 cents for the 2018-19 school year.

Thomas said the USDA wanted to make sure that Fowler School District was charging enough for their adult meals.

"We stayed with USDA recommendation but yet we're falling further and further behind from CDE's expectations," said Thomas.

The school board passed a motion to raise school meal prices by 15 cents across each grade level for students, 10 cents for adult breakfasts and 20 cents for adult lunches.