School lunch is not the most appetizing food in the world, but it could be the only food some kids get. More than 60 percent of students in Transylvania County receive free or reduced lunch.
Transylvania County Schools faces several problems funding the food served. Meal costs have risen due to many factors, including the number of students on free and reduced lunch, new nutrition guidelines and regulations and increasing food costs.
Because of rising costs, Child Nutrition is experiencing a “federal funding gap,” according to Carolyn Barton, Director of Child Nutrition. “That means we’re not getting enough money from the federal government to cover the cost of the meals which we currently produce for students everyday,” said Barton.
With more than 2,000 students in Transylvania County receiving free and reduced lunch benefits and new restrictions on supplemental items cafeterias are allowed to sell, Child Nutrition finds it increasingly difficult to offset rising costs.
Currently, Child Nutrition runs deficits of $100,000 or more a year attempting to ensure no child in Transylvania County Schools goes hungry at breakfast or lunch.
Child Nutrition hopes to resolve the deficit by being reimbursed more at the federal level, receiving more local funds, and relaxing “impractical” standards.
The Transylvania County School Board passed a resolution calling for an increase in federal reimbursement rates at its meeting on April 21, citing Child Nutrition as “an integral component of a child’s school education and well-being.”