The cost of a school lunch for K-12 students in the Stillwater Area School District may increase by 10 cents next year as schools try to comply with new federal requirements.

The school board will decide next month whether to raise the cost of a lunch by 10 cents to $2.40 in the elementary schools and $2.70 in the middle and high schools, starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

District 834 officials said they proposed increasing the cost of lunch in an effort to comply with one of the less-publicized components of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires schools to charge on average no less for paid student meals than the district receives in federal free meal subsidies – about $2.50 to $3 in most school districts.

“As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and school food authorities participating in a national lunch program – which we are and which we do – we’re required to have a pay-equity rate. It is a weighted average per school lunch,” Dennis Bloom, the district’s director of operations, said at a recent board meeting. “Our district’s current weighted average is $2.44 and USDA guidelines require that our weighted average should be $2.65, so we’re below what the weighted average should be.”

Families could face another price increase in the 2015-2016 school year, he said, adding that rising food prices were also to blame.

Bloom said that even with the increases, the proposed lunch fees are still comparable to other neighboring districts that are considering price hikes, including Mahtomedi, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale and Inver Grove Heights.

The school board will vote on the increased fees on June 12.