Wake County Public School System approves price increase for breakfast and lunch

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
WCPSS unanimously approves plan for opioid overdoses
Wake County Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a new Naloxone policy.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- New year, new price ... and the price is not cheaper.

Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, WCPSS students can expect to pay more for school meals across the county.

The district's children's nutrition director, Paula De Lucca, presented board members with reasons for why the district should increase the price; citing an increase in food costs and supplier fees for receiving the food.

"I have worked her to the bone," said board member Monika Johnson-Hostler of De Lucca's efforts to address the food issue. "At the end of the day, my vote is always going to be this isn't something that you can fix. It's not something I can fix singlehandedly, it's not something our state can fix singlehandedly unless we provide free meals to all students."

Two other board members voted against the price increase.

SEE ALSO | Wake County Public School System to vote on emergency plan for opioid overdoses, includes Naloxone supply

Board members spent their time discussing the solvency of the district's nutrition program against the quality of food students would be served if the price increase had failed.

De Lucca acknowledged that if the price increase proposal failed, then Child Nutrition Services would operate at a deficit for the next school year and food quality would decrease. She also noted that a price increase would continue to provide quality meals to students and prevent the district from financial challenges.

"If we don't try to cover our costs it's going to be a problem," said board member Dr. Wing Ng, who voted in favor of the price increase.

"Long-time financing of the program from the fund balance is not a sustainable solution, and it's nothing we can rely on," Board Chair Chris Heagarty said. ""Because of cash flow issues in the District, again we don't know what the state budget will look like, we find ourselves without operating funds. That's a horrible, horrible financial situation for this district to be in. I don't want a deficit in the program to lead to anyone being unpaid or losing their job."

Beginning in the next school year, students at elementary schools in Wake County will be charged $1.50 for breakfast and $3.25 for lunch. For middle school and high school students, those prices increase to $1.75 and $3.50 respectively.

For comparison, Wake County breakfast meals cost less than neighboring Johnston County Schools, but more than Chatham and Durham counties, which both provide free breakfast for its students.

The middle school lunch prices at WCPSS are more expensive than JCS but more affordable than those in Chatham and Durham.

WCPSS high school students pay the same in lunch pricing as their peers at JCS and less than students in Chatham and Durham.