WARRICK COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — Warrick County School along with other school districts around the country are ending their free lunch program put in place during the pandemic.

Though free lunches are providing meals for many children in the community, an extension for free food waivers may not be granted. Shenae Rowe, food & nutrition director for the Warrick County School Corporation says this extension is needed for at least another year.

“We are having extreme increase in food cost and so extending the waiver would be so helpful to the families at home,” Rowe said. “Our school nutrition program is seeing a 20 to 40 percent food increase for next school year in play and the only way to cover that is to have parents pay for that.”

This past year Warrick County seen an average of around 3,000 kids eating breakfast and 7,000 eating lunch which the school corporation says is an substantial increase.

“So if a student does not have money we have to offset that with other funding which would come from the general fund for the school corporation which is what pays teachers, pays for all the academic books,” Rowe said. “It definitely affects not just the families but it has a trickle down affect that affects so many different areas too.”

Teachers in the county believe providing meals to students over the last year has helped their children stay engaged and focused in the classroom.

“The average family just to pay for school lunch is going to be about 50 to 60 dollars a month so if you have three kids you can do the math when you’re adding up a lot of money,” Rowe said.

Not everyone is for the extension of free food waivers. The free food waiver would have a price tag of around nine billion dollars according to Rowe.