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Durham, Wake school boards vote to raise meal prices

A federal program that provides free meals to all students will end July 30, so school systems are scrambling to set prices that reflect rising costs.
Photo Illustration by Ruby Wallau
/
NPR
A federal program that provides free meals to all students will end July 30, so school systems are scrambling to set prices that reflect rising costs.

The Durham School Board voted Thursday night to raise school lunch prices by 85 cents.

Starting in the next school year, students will pay $3.75 for lunch. Those who qualify for reduced-price lunch will not be affected, and the district will still offer free breakfast to all students.

A federal program that provides free meals to all students will end July 30, so school systems are scrambling to set prices that reflect rising costs.

Wake County Schools passed a 25-cent increase earlier this week. The vote was 6-2, with Monika Johnson-Hostler and Tara Waters voting against it. Lunches at elementary schools will now be $3, and $3.25 at middle and high schools.

Paula De Lucca, Wake’s director of child nutrition, told the school board her department is paying more for just about everything.

“We just learned that the delivery fee charged by our prime distributor will increase 40% and cost us an additional $200,000 for the year just to get food and supplies delivered to our schools,” she said.

Meanwhile, advocates are urging Congress to extend the free meal program.

“We desperately need these waivers to manage unyielding supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, cover rapidly escalating costs and remain viable to support our communities,” said Beth Wallace, president of the School Nutrition Association.

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