School lunches no longer free in public school districts

School lunches no longer free in public school districts
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - After two school years of free lunch, students will now have to pay for school lunches again in their respective cafeterias. However, school officials say it’ll still be cheaper than packing your lunch at home.

Federal and state government funding programs provided free lunches for all public school students throughout the pandemic. But–as of yesterday–that funding has run out for North Carolina public schools.

Craven County Schools and Onslow County Schools are among the school districts in Eastern Carolina that say they have now gone back to the National School Lunch Program.

The program offers free or reduced lunch for students whose household income is under $3,000 a month. Those whose income is above the threshold are required to pay daily for lunch.

And for those who still may be unable to afford lunch daily, Craven County Schools Nutrition Director Lauren Weyand says the school district accepts community donations for an angel fund designed for schools that have the largest unpaid lunch balances.

However, Weyand says she crunched the numbers and found that due to increased inflation at the grocery store register, school lunches will save students and their families money annually.

“I did the math, and it is a difference of $1.85 per day per child. So at the end of the school year, a parent having their child eat school lunch would save approximately $333 at the end of the school year per child. Go ahead and fill out a meal application. We have so many students that are possibly qualified that still aren’t filling out a meal application form,” Weyand said.

Weyand says parents of students who qualify for free lunch can still apply at their child’s respective school or the Craven County school district building.

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