Educators will tell you breakfast and lunch are essential to the positive performance of students.
Officials with the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS) say in the upcoming school year, 2015-2016, 10 of their schools will serve meals for free.
To purchase both breakfast and lunch in the ABSS it costs a student on average, between $3-$4 a day.
Serving free meals is part of a program called CEP, the Community Eligibility Provision program. Federal funds will pay for students meals.
This program is offered at more than 300,000 schools across North Carolina including in Rockingham and Guilford Counties.
USDA officials say the program is offered at schools that serve predominately low-income students.
The 10 schools added to the program's list from ABSS are Broadview Middle, Eastlawn Elementary, Grove Park Elementary, Newlin Elementary, Haw River Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, North Graham Elementary, Pleasant Grove Elementary, Andrews Elementary and South Graham Elementary.
This program comes to the ABSS following the reveal of unpaid school tabs. For this school year so far, the debt is about $44,000 for all 35 schools. For the 10 schools that are joining the CEP program, their total unpaid lunch balance is $11,000.
Guilford County Schools has $27,839.60 in unpaid lunch bills so far. They implemented the CEP program for 2014-2015. They've seen the debt drop more than $30,000 over the course of a year-- although there are other contributing factors officials say CEP played a role.
Rockingham County also uses the CEP program. All of its schools have it. Officials say they have no owed balances of unpaid lunch bills because of it.
Unpaid lunch bills have to be paid by local education agencies.