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What's the Cost of a School Meal Upgrade?

School meals are a pennies game, and the cost of even small improvements really adds up.

It's often been said that school foodservice is a “pennies game,” with some of the tightest food cost management in the industry. That's especially true these days, when school meal reimbursement amounts from USDA have have been falling farther and farther behind the costs of actually providing school meals. Even modest initiatives to improve the quality of ingredients used in those meals can play havoc with school nutrition budgets, as demonstrated in the following examples. *Source: School Nutrition Association

District Action Cost
Beavercreek (OH) City Schools substituting 87,000 servings of fresh apple slices for canned applesauce at 30 cents each $15,000
Alexandria (VA) Public Schools switching to a whole grain sandwich bun for the 12,000-student enrollment $75,000
Polk County (FL) Schools switching from canned to fresh green beans for the 92,000-student enrollment $5,520/day
Cobb County (GA) Schools switching to a fortified 100% juice drink without corn syrup or artificial color from a 50% juice drink for the 4.4 million cartons served annually over $133,000
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