ORLANDO, Fla. – Parents are experiencing sticker shock as they head to stores to complete their back-to-school shopping.
According to the most recent report, consumers are seeing the highest rate of inflation in 40 years and that is translating into higher prices.
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“It’s harder because everything has gone up,” Courtney Carter said.
Carter and other parents recently took advantage of Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday at a Walmart in the Orlando area.
Like many others, Carter said her family is struggling to make ends meet and the sales tax holiday was one way she was trying to save money.
“My husband only worked 16 hours this week, so we’re living off week-by-week. It’s been rough. It’s been rough,” she said. “(Working) 16 hours a week. That’s kind of not good.”
According to Deloitte, an audit firm, 33% of American families find themselves in a worse financial situation this year.
Additionally, 57% said they worried how inflation would impact their back-to-school shopping.
To help some parents get results, local school districts and community organizations have been holding backpack and school supply giveaways.
In fact, last weekend, nearly every district in Central Florida’s nine counties held an event.
“Prices on everything are going up, so we’re fortunate that we’re able to provide some relief,” Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns said.
Richard Miles, who helps direct Seminole County Public Schools’ Red Apple Dining program, said getting children prepared for school often “can feel like a daunting task,” but especially does this upcoming school year.
For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, parents will have to apply for free and reduced school meals again.
During the pandemic, a federal waiver allowed all students to eat for free.
That will not be the case in most counties this year.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of families that are going to apply and would benefit from applying,” he said.
Some school districts, such as Sumter, Marion and Volusia counties, will continue to use another federal program to allow all of their students to receive free meals in school.
Lake County Public Schools told News 6 it will be using excess funds to provide students free meals for an additional year.
All other school districts in Central Florida will require parents to apply for the program.
Miles said Seminole County Public Schools also has its own foundation, which allows parents to contribute money in order to help other parents.
Meanwhile, Carter said she is working to stay on budget.
“We’re still worrying. Little by little, but we will make it. We do every year, though,” she said.
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