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Student lunch debt skyrocketing across country

Student lunch debt skyrocketing across country
Student lunch debt skyrocketing across country 01:13

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Many students are unable to afford school lunches, and families are now struggling to keep up with the costs.

"There's no disputing that a child at school needs to be fed," Marilyn Volden, La Crosse Schools nutritionist, said.

School lunch debt is skyrocketing nationwide. School districts, like one in Wisconsin, are guaranteeing kids have access to meals.

Many families remain on the hook for the bill.

A pandemic-era program allowed every student to get free meals for the past two years.

But now, that program is over, and schools are racking up the debt over lunch.

The district has relied on community donations to pay off lunch debt, but that money is never guaranteed.

"Budgets are tight, people are feeling it at home. And if students can't get the nutrition they need at home, they come to school hungry. And hungry students can't learn," said success coach Brad Byan.

In November, Wisconsin Democrats introduced a bill to provide universal free meals statewide. It did not pass the Republican-controlled legislature.

In Pennsylvania, students can enjoy free breakfast at school. The Universal Free Breakfast Program gives free breakfast to 1.7 million students across the state.

Students are also eligible to enjoy free and price-reduced lunches based on family size and income.

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