Brunswick County BOE discussing budget for free student meals

Along with inflation and food stamps changes, having to potentially pay for meals that have previously been distributed for free has created economic stress.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 11:49 AM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Students in Brunswick County have received free breakfast and lunches at school for the last four years.

Community Eligibility Provision, known as CEP, expires this year. CEP allows high-need schools to offer breakfast and lunch to students at no cost. The school system became eligible after Hurricane Florence.

Now, the Brunswick County Board of Education is trying to figure out the plan for the next school year.

Last week, the board of education met to talk about plans for the next year. Although there wasn’t a final consensus, they plan to revisit the topic at the next meeting. The staff has high hopes that CEP will continue for the 2023-2024 school year.

“Our school system has participated in the last four years and all the children have been approved for meals at no cost. So, it’s been a very great thing for Brunswick County schools and the community. The board realizes that it is very important and something that we should continue,” said Imer Smith, child nutrition director for Brunswick County Schools.

Along with inflation and the recent changes to food stamps, having to potentially pay for meals that have previously been distributed for free has put more economic stress on families.

“Families have enough burden on them, as far as income. There’s all these inflation’s, food costs and gas, so why can’t we just be one of those good partners and help families out with meals at no costs,” said Smith.

If Brunswick County students have to pay in the future, that would equal a daily rate of $3.25 for elementary schools and $3.35 for middle and high schools.

The board is scheduled to meet again on March 31.