Iredell-Statesville Schools considers increasing price of school meals

School district leaders held a meeting Monday night and are considering raising the price of school lunch by 50 cents.
Before COVID-19, the district was raising prices about 10 cents a year.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:03 AM EDT
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STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – Area school districts are scrambling to figure out how to keep children fed after the federal government announced it would end the free school lunch program for all students.

The program, which was instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, will still be available to families who qualify based on income.

Related: Burke schools finds funding for free lunch program

With costs going up, leaders with Iredell-Statesville Schools say they can’t afford to continue without increasing the price families pay.

School district leaders held a meeting Monday night and are considering raising the price of school lunch by 50 cents.

Before COVID-19, the district was raising prices about 10 cents a year. Once the pandemic hit, they got a higher reimbursement rate which really helped.

Currently, Iredell-Statesville School leaders don’t know how much money the federal government will reimburse them when the COVID-19 plan ends later this month. At the rate now, the district says it can’t afford to continue.

In 2019, breakfast was $1.40; the proposed cost next school year would be $1.90. In 2019, lunch for kindergarten through fifth grade was $2.80. That would go up to $3.30 if the proposal is approved. Lunch for sixth through 12th grade would increase to $3.40.

At times during Monday night’s meeting, board members became emotional knowing that there are families who will not be able to afford this.

“I am mad. I am furious with our government. That’s all I can say. This is unjust to our children and to our department and to my staff,” Tina Wilson, director of school nutrition, said.

“I’d like to have a dime for every time in my 30 years of education that I gave a child money for lunch. It’s just amazing,” an emotional Bill Howell, board member for District 2, said.

There is a bill in the North Carolina legislature that would provide free school lunches. If that passes, district leaders say they wouldn’t have to raise the cost.

They’re set to vote on that next week.

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