The Lunch Lady Gets Pinched By Food Prices, But ETFs Won't Be | ETF Trends

The high cost of food that has sent agriculture exchange traded funds (ETFs) into the stratosphere this year has touched another area: the school lunch.

School cafeteria budgets are getting squeezed, and as evidence that no good deed goes unpunished, it’s probably because they’re trying to serve the kids well-balanced, nutritious lunches. Steve Henn for Marketplace reports that putting all those healthy options on one plate is getting pricey.

For example, Arlington, VA, serves 10,000 cartons of milk a day. The cost for one of those 8-oz. cartons rose by 10 cents last year, sending the school district into the red.

Many schools at the very least want their lunch programs to support themselves, or even turn a profit. Some school food service directors are even willing to sell junk food if that’s what it takes to make ends meet. In most states, that’s not illegal even though things like Snickers don’t meet federal dietary guidelines.

Food prices have stepped back from their highs, but their cost continues to put a crimp on many budgets. Affected ETFs:

  • iPath DJ AIG Agriculture Total Return Sub-Index (JJA), down 2.4% year-to-date
  • E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Food (FUD), down 1.6% since April 4 inception
  • ELEMENTS MCLX Grains Index (GRU), down 13.4% since Feb. 15 inception
  • PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA), up 2.9% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.