Schools across the North East are owed nearly £200,000 in unpaid school dinner money, according to a Freedom of Information Act request.
In most councils there has been an increase in the amount owed, forcing councils to take the money from the rest of the education budget.
Some families owe more than £800, while more and more are struggling to pay.
More top news
Northumbria Police is offering advice to racegoers attending Northumberland Plate Day at Newcastle Racecourse
A mum-of-three from Newcastle has been shortlisted for the 'High Profile Working Parent of the Year' award
A look ahead at the weekend forecast for the Tyne Tees region.