Published: Jul 01, 2008 01:59 PM
Modified: Jul 01, 2008 01:59 PM
Rising food costs have hit some Triangle school systems, and they're passing them on to parents.
Sabrina Hanson is looking at a $270 increase to have her three children eat school meals next year.
Earlier this month, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools increased breakfast by 5 cents and lunch by 10 cents. Prices for both meals in the Orange County Schools are increasing 25 cents each.
School districts across the state are wrestling with meal costs, said Lynn Hoggard, director of child nutrition with the state Department of Public Instruction.
"We all are being affected by the increase in food and fuel, and the ripple effect of these increased costs," Hoggard said.
Some parents may not be bothered by paying an extra quarter per meal for their child to eat a school-provided lunch.
Susan Manning's daughter Zoe Simons, who will be a fourth-grader at Chapel Hill-Carrboro's Morris Grove Elementary School, mostly buys her lunch at school because her parents work and don't always have time to fix her lunch.
"Personally, I don't find that small increase a burden," Manning said. "If it is a big burden, people can save money by making lunch. There's going to be an occasional increase with this kind of thing."
Manning said she hopes some of the extra money will go to school cafeteria workers: "It's not easy dealing with 600 hungry grammar-school kids."
But for some parents the 25-cent increase adds up.
"That's not good. That's not good at all. You know, 25 cents is not really going to hurt me, but I know for some families, it could be really bad for them," said Sabrina Hanson, PTA president at Grady A. Brown Elementary School in the Orange County Schools system.
"Say one family has multiple children and you don't qualify for free and reduced lunch -- it could really hurt," she said.
Hanson's two children eat school meals every day. Her third child will enter kindergarten this fall. She started adding up the extra costs for her three children to eat both breakfast and lunch at school.
"That's 50 cents extra per kid, that's $1.50 a day for three kids," she calculated aloud. That's a $30 increase per month, she said. For the full nine months of the school year, that would add up to an extra $270 she and her husband would have to pay for their children to eat a school breakfast and lunch.
"We're already paying a lot for fuel and food in our personal lives," Hanson added. "I think the state should toughen up and absorb most of this cost."
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