FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Students are headed back to school, and that has left parents with decisions on how to shave back to school costs.

One of those decisions is whether or not to pack a lunch for their children.

Last year this wasn’t an issue as the USDA gave schools funding and flexibility during COVID to supply meals free of charge.

So WANE 15 decided to compare local school lunches and packed lunches.

A lunch according to the USDA is a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, milk, and a whole grain.

For a sixth grader in the area, the cost breaks down like this,

  • FWCS: Free
  • NACS: $2.25
  • SACS: $2.00
  • EACS: $2.00

Those prices are especially hard to beat when a single milk at Kroger costs almost $1.50.

When you add in the other components of a meal, it can get quite pricey every day.

When divided out per serving, the best WANE 15 could come up with is a lunch consisting of a ham sandwich on whole grain bread, one milk, a serving of carrots and a banana.

But that comes out to $4.29, a far cry from any school district in Fort Wayne, and more than double most.

Not to mention children, like adults, crave variety, so the same ham sandwich and a banana won’t cut it for long, and mixing up lunches can cost lots of time and money.

In addition, the listed prices of school lunches above can stand to be lowered even further.

Ashlee Schroyer, director of food service at Southwest Allen County Schools, wants people to know that no matter what district they are in.

“The USDA sets the household income guidelines, and then all families can apply online,” Shroyer said about free and reduced benefits.

If you are interested in applying for free and reduced lunch you can find the information on your school district’s website.