Fears have been raised that schools meals in Moray could be too expensive after a forecast shortfall of nearly 50,000 dinners was revealed in the region.
Lunches for primary school pupils currently cost £2.30, but are provided free for youngsters in P1 to P3.
The meals previously cost £2.10 per day in 2015 before increasing to £2.20 the following year and then hitting the current level in 2017.
Secondary school costs have increased by the same amount during the period to reach the current £2.40 mark.
Moray Council will meet in January to discuss potential increases to all services provided by the authority, including school dinners.
However, calls have been made to stay clear from lunch meal rises after budget reports revealed a predicted shortfall of £114,000 from servings.
Senior management have stressed they are continuing to work to find “the sweet point” to balance cashflow against demand.
Tim Eagle, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said: “What we’re seeing here is that the pressure to increase income because of serious underfunding to councils is potentially impacting on parents’ choice to buy school meals.
“The £114,000 figure equates to nearly 50,000 dinners. That is a lot of children no longer eating healthy local food.
“We are lucky to have a variety of high-quality meals on offer in Moray and it’s a shame to think that the pressure to increase prices is impacting upon uptake.
“The question in my mind now is if the increase in price has actually caused such a reduction that we are now taking in less than we were when the price was lower.”
Moray Council has already agreed a default 5% increase in the cost of services it provides in order to try and balance next year’s budget amid a projected £9.5million funding gap.
However, talks will be held in January to agree prices for individual areas, which may increase by more or less than the default already set.
Stephen Cooper, Moray Council’s head of direct services, said: “We continue to review charges to get the sweet point to maximise income and maximise uptake.
“We should note that the reducing uptake of school meals is a national reduction not just linked to issues in Moray.
“We are planning a campaign in the next few months to encourage uptake by advertising the benefits of healthy living, healthy lifestyles and other factors.”