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School-lunch price increasing

Beaufort County Schools will charge more for some students’ lunches in the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, barring changes in the state’s budget.
“We regret the need for increasing the price of lunches, but found it to be an unavoidable necessity for the coming school year,” reads an email sent by the school system to area media outlets.
Lunches for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade will increase from $1.75 to $2 for students who pay for their lunches. The price for lunches for students in grades nine through 12 remains at $2. The price for breakfast for all students who pay for their breakfasts remains at $1.25. Breakfasts remain free for students who receive free or reduced-price lunches.
Applications for free and/or reduced meals will be mailed to student households in Beaufort County not already matched through the Beaufort County Department of Social Services.
“Even if you are unsure if your family will qualify, please return the completed application. The privacy of your information will be protected! You may also visit our website and check under the Child Nutrition Department link to obtain an application,” reads the email.
Anyone with questions regarding the free and/or reduced meals program should contact BCS’ child-nutrition department at 252-946-2012 or visit the department’s office at 1010 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington.
BCS isn’t the only school system to increase the price of school lunches for the next school year. In February, Kannapolis City Schools increased the price of a school lunch by 50 cents to $2 for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, with students in the remaining grades paying $2.10 for a lunch.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to provide “equity in school lunch pricing,” a provision that went into effect last July.
“Yes, this was the primary reason for the price increase. This was mandated, leaving us no choice,” wrote Sarah Hodges, BCS’s public information officer.  “We feel very fortunate we did not have to implement a cost increase before now and we are hopeful it will be some time before we see another increase.”
According to federal standards, districts should be charging students at least $2.51 for lunch. Because BCS is not charging that amount, which means the school system is either required to gradually adjust average prices or provide nonfederal funding to cover the difference.
A March 2, 2011, USDA memorandum further explains the provision, which is part of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.
“This provision requires school food authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program to ensure that schools are providing the same level of support for lunches served to students who are not eligible for free or reduced price lunches (i.e., paid lunches) as they are for lunches served to students eligible for free lunches. This provision is effective July 1, 2011,” reads the memorandum.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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