A group of Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would wipe out student meal debt for kids across the United States.
Sens. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), introduced the “School Lunch Debt Cancellation Act” last week.
Fetterman said there are more than 30 million kids in the U.S. who can’t afford school meals and that the national public school meal debt is $262 million a year.
“‘School lunch debt’ is a term so absurd that it shouldn’t even exist,” Fetterman said in a press release on Monday. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bill to cancel the nation’s student meal debt and stop humiliating kids and penalizing hunger.”
The new bill would erase student lunch debt by directing the Department of Agriculture to pay for all debts owed to schools for lunch and breakfast programs.
The child poverty rate more than doubled last year, while the average household income declined, according to 2023 Census data.