CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County Schools want to make healthy food more accessible to students.

When students get their lunch, studies show their plates of food are fuel for academic success.

Student eating lunch (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)

“We have great data to support that it reduces chronic absenteeism, and we know that that means it increases the outcomes of all of our students,” said Monika Johnson-Hostler, who represents District 2 on the Wake County School Board.

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Cindy Long with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition service joined in on lunchtime Tuesday at Kingswood Magnet Elementary in Cary.

She sat with students and spoke with Wake County Schools about the importance of nutritious meals.

“I always ask kids who aren’t eating school meals why they are not, and the things that I hear are interesting,” Long explained.

USDA’s Cindy Long eating lunch with WCPSS students (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)Student getting lunch (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)School lunch (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)Student getting lunch (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)

In a roundtable discussion, they highlighted initiatives like Breakfast after the Bell and the Farm-to-Table program, which benefits local farmers.

They said it’s part of an effort to continue the conversation about conditions exposed by the pandemic, and they need help through federal, state and local governments.

“This is one of the most important things we could do for our children,” said Matt Calabria with the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “Food insecurity and addressing food insecurity among our children is one of the most effective and cost-effective things that we can do for our kids.”

For the second year in a row, lunch prices in Wake County Schools will cost 25 cents more in the fall. Breakfast is also going up 25 cents for all students.

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“We’re looking to both the state and federal government for ways to close the financial gap and to acknowledge the real hardship of raising wages, while also ensuring that we have the best nutritional food,” said Johnson-Hostler.

“A well-fed body, a well-hydrated brain, makes it much more conducive to learning,” said Dr. Robert Taylor, Superintendent of Wake County Schools. “If we are really serious about our children doing well academically, nutrition is a large part of that.”



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Dr. Taylor tells CBS 17 the is to provide quality meals for every child where cost is not an issue.