MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are some big changes coming for the costs of school meals for the upcoming school year in Moore County.
The Board of Education voted to increase the price of breakfast and lunch at 12 schools. However, the remaining 11 schools will serve free meals thanks to a federal program for children who can't afford it.
Moore County's changes to school meals are the latest example of school reform after the effects of the COVID pandemic.
The price of breakfast and lunch has been increased by 50 cents at the 12 affected schools still charging for meals. As a result, breakfast for those students in kindergarten through 12th grade will cost $1.75. Lunch for children in kindergarten through eighth grade will cost $3 while high school lunches will cost $3.25. However, reduced and free lunches will still be available for children who can't afford the meals at these schools.
"We're aiming at better food, we're aiming at more participation in the program, and yet, number three, still maintaining free lunches for schools that have significant disadvantaged population," said Robert Levy, the chair of the Moore County Schools Board of Education.
Levy explained that the district has to raise prices now to help pay for school meals at the schools that don't qualify for the program after the federal government stopped covering the cost of meals for all public schools last school year. He said the board didn't previously raise prices to avoid financially burdening parents as inflation and other hardships from the pandemic were on the rise. Still, Moore County Schools reported that the district ultimately racked up a deficit of more than $500,000 during the 2022-23 school year despite using its savings to help pay for meals.
Meanwhile, in a separate effort, 11 remaining schools will serve free meals to all of their students because they serve high-poverty populations and have newly joined a federal program.
"We wish that we could bring all of the students into the free lunch program, but we don't have the money to do it and the federal government has not seen fit to include all of our schools," Levy said. "But we're trying to make sure that as many of our students as possible are receiving our school lunches."