School lunch prices could go up again in Wake County

Wake County school lunch prices could go up 20 cents this fall — marking the fourth year in a row that the district has raised meal prices.

Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore is recommending the price increase to raise $681,000 to help balance the child nutrition services budget. The proposed increase would raise the cost for a full-price lunch to $2.75 in elementary schools and $3 in middle schools and high schools.

The school board will vote later this spring on the increase in meal prices. If adopted, it would mean that lunch prices will have risen 75 cents over a four-year period.

Before the 2016-17 school year, Wake hadn’t raised meal prices since 2010. School districts around the state and the nation have raised their meal prices in recent years since the federal school nutrition program was revised.

Schools have faced challenges getting students to eat the healthier meals required by the federal government. This has complicated efforts to keep the child nutrition budget financially self-sufficient.

During Wednesday’s school budget work session, school board member Chris Heagarty said one way to raise revenue would be to increase meal sales. He said parents should buy the healthy snacks they can get at school as opposed to bringing them from home.

That idea was applauded by other school board members.

“If we improve the quality of the food that we’re serving, not only at breakfast and lunch within the guidelines, I think that would be a great way for us to increase sales and increase more children buying and eating in the cafeteria together,” said school board member Christine Kushner.

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