Students in one Northampton County school district could be paying up to 25 percent more for lunch beginning in January.
The Nazareth Area School Board unanimously approved two 25-cent increases in lunch prices Monday night.
The first boost would take effect Aug. 1, the other on Jan. 15.
The board made the move after Supt. Dr. Dennis Riker explained that the district food service program ran a $67,000 deficit last school year and warned that if the trend toward finishing in the red continues, the food services fund would be depleted in three to five years.
That would require the board to pay for the program with tax revenue from the general fund, he added.
Starting Aug. 1, lunches at elementary and intermediate school will cost $2.20, while at middle and high schools, the price will be $2.45. Adult lunches will cost $3.75. Milk sold a la carte will jump 20 percent, to 60 cents.
On Jan. 15, elementary and intermediate school lunches could go to $2.45; middle and high school lunches to $2.70, and adult lunches to $4. The price of milk would stay the same.
According to figures presented to the board by Riker, the number of high school students who bought lunch during 2012-13 was about 29 percent, while at the middle, intermediate and elementary schools, the number was about 13 percent at each level.
Before the vote, board member Darrell noted, "This is a pretty healthy increase," and promised that come January, the board would revisit the issue before the second price rise kicks in.
"This is a worst case scenario," he said of the second 25-cent boost, noting that the increase could be less -- or avoided altogether -- if the lunch program numbers improve.
Riker also reported that the amount of fruits and vegetables thrown away by students dropped in all but one of the district's six school this spring, compared to last fall.
Nazareth Area High School had the lowest percentage of fruits and vegetables being discarded daily -- 26, about half of what it was in the fall -- while Bushkill Elementary had the highest --54 percent.
The spring Fruit & Vegetable Waste Audit said fruit waste at the high school and middle school was cut in half because students were given sliced apples in bags instead of whole apples.
In other business, the board approved the hiring of Joseph Silimperi as director of athletics and coordinator of student activities at a salary of $70,297.
Silimperi, a Nazareth Area High School grad who has taught special education in the district for eight years, succeeds Rusty Amato.
Amato, who earned $91,517 last year, left the job he had held since 2007 to become assistant principal at the high school, Riker said.