Smithtown Central School District's lunch prices will increase as school opens on Sept. 2, with primary school lunches rising to $2.75 and secondary school prices to $3.

This year's 15-cent price hike is necessary to sustain the school lunch program and to keep it from falling back into a deficit, said Andrew Tobin, an assistant superintendent.

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"To keep pace with the increasing price of food and contractual items in the school lunch program, we felt it was necessary to increase the price of school lunches," he said.

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Since new federal nutrition guidelines were implemented in schools a few years ago, the program's sales have suffered, Tobin said. Snack items were also subject to regulation last year with soda and cookies replaced by healthier alternatives that are less popular with students, said board member Theresa Knox. Vending machine items and beverages such as Gatorade and Snapple are no longer for sale.

Lunch prices were raised by a quarter last year, resulting in the first sales surplus in several consecutive years, Tobin said.