Teacher And Students Eating Lunch In High School Cafeteria During Recess

Things are about to get a bit rough for students looking to purchase meals at school. Between new state laws and an increase in the cost of food and supplies, school districts are beginning to raise the cost of school meals.

WHY?

WRAL reports that government meal assistance programs are on their way to expiring. As a result, thousands of North Carolina students may get millions fewer free meals this summer. Students who do not qualify for free or subsidized meals may be paying up to hundreds more for meals come this fall. WRAL reports that this price increase could lead to a decline in performances as some students may go hungry.

The expansion of a key federal meal-cost relief program is scheduled to expire on June 30. Meanwhile, there is a bipartisan bill to extend the program waiting in the US Senate. School districts are grappling with how to cover rising costs. Several school districts, including those in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties, are raising their meal prices. “All of these issues are going to make it more complicated for families to be able to assure that their children get access to these meals,” said Tamara Baker to WRAL.

The expanded federal program enables free meals to all students and reduces barriers to summer meal programs in lower-income communities. These barriers helped more than 100,000 to 200,000 North Carolina children. When the assistance program was extended, the government made meals more accessible by offering delivery services. When the program expires, then the delivery services will go away for the summer.

With an increase in gas prices and in meal services, officials believe many students will not be able to travel for their meals this summer. The expiration of the federal program will also reduce federal free meal reimbursements for schools. The school systems that have already approved raising school meal prices, include:

  • Wake County Public School System
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Johnston County Schools
  • Roanoke Rapids Graded School District
  • Granville County Schools
  • Harnett County Schools
  • Franklin County Schools

For more on the story and possibilities of the school meals increase, click here.