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Gov. Cox responds to FOX 13 News report on school lunch debt numbers across the state

Posted at 11:05 AM, Apr 21, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A recent report by FOX13 found Utah families are carrying nearly $1.8 million in school lunch debt.

At Governor Spencer Cox’s monthly news conference Thursday, FOX 13 News anchor John Franchi asked if there is a desire in Utah to emulate other states that provide no-cost meals at school to all students regardless of their ability to pay.

“I saw the story,” Gov. Cox said.  “Obviously it's something I am interested in. We never want kids to go hungry. That's the most important piece of this. I am always interested in making sure that we have enough to help our families who are on the margins and if that is not happening, then I think we should step in and help wherever we can.”

SEE THE DATA: Look at district-specific data across Utah to see how much school lunch debt Utah students have

The governor praised the efforts of community groups that are working to collect donations to offset the costs for families that face a financial burden and can’t pay.

He stopped short of saying he would support a universal free lunch program.

“I don’t think we should rely on the government to solve all of our problems,” Gov. Cox said.  “If there is a way to do that without government intervention, I think we should do it.  If there is not, then I would be willing to support in those cases where it is needed. If it's just well-to-do parents that just aren't paying, then I feel differently.” 

Since FOX 13’s original story aired, another school district responded to an open records request, raising the statewide school lunch debt total to $1,799,309.