Councils in the North East are owed almost £200,000 in unpaid school dinner money.
A Freedom of Information request to all councils in the region, submitted by ITV Tyne Tees, revealed the figure.
Stockton Council alone is now owed more than £87,000 - with just one family in debt for £880.
Ann McCoy, from Stockton Council, said the money is being taken from elsewhere in the education budget.
But she added the council will not turn children away without a school dinner and the council was working with families to improve their budgeting.