Rockingham County Schools cut back on free meal program

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- Rockingham County school board leaders Monday made the business decision to cut the Community Eligibility program that offers free meals to high-poverty schools in the county.

Superintendent Dr. Rodney Shotwell said the school system will revert back to the traditional school application process where families individually apply based on need.

“For every 10 [students] that are going through the line, three are having full pay reimbursement for us and seven are being reimbursed by the USDA," Dr. Shotwell said. "It’s an enterprise fund for the Child Nutrition Program. Income should equal expenses and right now we need to get that back in line and that’s what we're aiming to do here."

Starting Feb. 1, 2016, only nine of the 25 schools within the district will continue free meals school-wide for all students.

“The lunch program should be a break even proposition. You don’t make a profit off of it of any kind and you shouldn’t lose anything either. So we just kind of came to a business decision and felt like that this was the best approach for us because that $900,000 that we're using out of the budget to help supplement it could pay for 18 teachers," Dr. Shotwell said.

The schools continuing the program are: Draper Elementary, Dillard Elementary, Leaksville-Spray Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Moss Street Elementary, Reidsville Middle, South End Elementary, SCORE and Williamsburg Elementary School.

Applications for those that attend other schools should be returned no later than Jan. 6.

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