A 20-cent increase in the price of school lunches was approved Monday night after the Brownwood school board heard a report on rapidly escalating costs for the price of food.

New prices will be $1.70 for students in elementary schools and $2 for those in the middle and high schools. Charges for free and reduced price meals will not change, because those are set by the USDA.

School district food services director Michelle Helms said the cost of food alone for the average meal of pizza is up from 99 cents last year to $1.17 to this year, and for a hamburger meal from $1.19 to $1.31.

A serving of milk is up from just under 25 cents to 26-1/2 cents.

“Right now, we’re in good shape,” Helms said of the food service budget. “But we want to stay in good shape.”

The price paid by students represents less than one-fourth of the total revenue in the food service budget. Almost $975,000 of its $1,311,419 revenues — 74 percent — comes from federal payments for free and reduced meals. The remainder is from state matching funds, according to data Helms provided to the school board Monday night.

The current cost for reduced price meals is 40 cents, officials said.

School board members expressed their appreciation to Helms for her management of the food service.