Here's how Wake County will address child hunger once the federal lunch waiver program ends

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County is increasing funding for a school-meal program and trying to bridge the gap in a federal program that expires at the end of June.

The government has been providing free school-lunch waivers nearly through the entirety of the pandemic.

The program is going to sunset at the end of June.

Grandmother Veronica Brinson is glad to hear Wake County is trying to help students from going without food.

"It's definitely one less thing to pay for," she said. "There's a lot of kids who don't eat nothing at all once they get home."

That reality has been on the mind of Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria, who has been pushing for more funding.

"This provides much-needed help to families that might be struggling to get by in a time that we know costs and prices are rising. We know people are still trying to recover from the pandemic," said Calabria.

Additional funds were approved Monday night in the budget.

About 52% of the funding will go to the Wake County School District. The money will be used in a variety of ways and an extra $40,000 for the breakfast program.

Calabria says the investment offers real results.

"When universal breakfasts are put in place, we see test scores increasing, behavioral problems decreasing, graduate rate increasing. There's a lot of data that says really benefit from not going hungry, especially in those early hours of the day," said Calabria.

ABC11 also reached out to the Durham County School District to see about plans to help students once the federal program comes to an end.

We're being told Durham will not have a bridge program and parents are being encouraged to apply for free or reduced lunch.

Applications will be available online starting July 1.
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