Burke schools finds funding for free lunch program

There are two bills in front of the North Carolina Legislature right now that would pick up the tab for the school lunch program.
There are two bills in front of the North Carolina Legislature right now that would pick up the tab for the school lunch program.
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

VALDESE, N.C. (WBTV) - Federal funding for the free and reduced schools under COVID-19 may be grinding to a halt as early as this Friday. In Burke County, they secured a grant through the USDA to feed not only school kids, but any adult for a reduced cost.

There are two bills in front of the North Carolina Legislature right now that would pick up the tab for the school lunch program. It is a program, especially now, that is in dire need in the county.

Most days at Valdese Elementary it’s like trying to feed a small army. There are 20 classes to feed, 300 breakfasts, 400 lunches and they’re looking at over 700 meals headed for hungry bellies.

“It’s a very big need in our community,” Teacher Holly Russ said.

Cafeteria workers say most of the trays they hand out are part of the free or reduced-cost program that keeps kids fed.

“Has just been a blessing.”

Tuesday Sigmond has two kids enrolled at Valdese Elementary, four in total in the school system. She says with the program in place, it helps lift the burden on struggling families.

“I think the past couple of years has really hit home for a lot of parents. And the extra burden of feeding children,” Sigmond said.

And that burden seems to be getting worse. With gas prices at all-time highs and some shortages at the grocery store, feeding your family is putting the squeeze on many budgets.

“Three dollars, you can’t beat that anywhere.”

Nick Bobotas works in dining services for the district. And says with the program in place, it’s been a godsend for area residents.

“We’re a safety net for some in the community also,” he said.

During the pandemic, the Federal Government funded the free school lunch program. That funding ends Friday. So, the school system secured a grant from the USDA to take it through the summer. It provides meals at two local schools free for all children under eighteen, and three bucks for any adult.

“I think the need speaks for itself.”

Mike Swan is the Superintendent.

“We’re chasing them uphill right now without that food in their belly.”

Parents we talked to were hopeful the North Carolina State Legislature will get those bills passed before time runs out.

“I have no idea how much money that’s saving our family but I know it’s a huge bout,” Tuesday said.

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.