JOHNSTON, Iowa – Since the pandemic, schools across the nation have offered free lunches, but those programs are expected to come to an end this summer.

Many districts in the Des Moines metro are expected to increase the prices of their school lunches for the upcoming school year mostly due to inflation.

“So as we’re getting our pricing from our manufacturers for next year. milk, bread, you know, all of the food items that we serve in a school lunch, we’re seeing, you know, significantly higher prices than in past years. So we’re feeling that increase in the cost of produce and the cost of milk and meat and bread and all of those things as well as an increase in labor costs,” said Willow Kriegel, West Des Moines Schools Nutrition Services director.

While many districts have not decided officially, parents need to prepare for the meals to cost more. In West Des Moines, they have decided to increase prices by 25 cents due to inflation, and in Johnston, they’re looking to implement a smaller increase for similar reasons, said Lynn Meadows, the Communications representative for Johnston School District. 

“We were very fortunate to be able to just propose a very minimal increase of five cents. I think that’s why it’s not generating as much discussion as it could. I understand some other districts have much larger increases. So we put this proposal forward and it’ll come up for a board vote on May 23,” said Meadows. 

Students that qualify for free or reduced lunches are still eligible even with the price changes.