Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon has led a nonprofit to raise funds with hopes of wiping out school meal debt for students throughout the state.

Just last week, it was announced that Gordon has helped the Wyoming Hunger Initiative raise a total of $99,485, which will go towards paying off school meal debt for students in 28 districts across the Cowboy State. Gordon recently talked about the nonprofit's efforts:

The first time I heard about school lunch debt was from a food service worker who was telling me a story that really kind of shook me to the core about a child who didn’t have enough on their account...The food worker was instructed to hand the tray to the child and then pull it back and tell them they couldn’t afford it, which really hit me hard.

Some children may not be able to graduate or other things to try to meet that debt...So to be able to do it now, the parents will go back next fall with a clean slate. The child doesn’t have to worry.

The funds raised by the nonprofit will help to clear school meal debt previously before the pandemic, when students had universal free lunch available, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gordon says she wanted to help children throughout the state to help with fighting food insecurity in her role as Wyoming's first lady:

After traveling around the state and seeing so many communities that had food pantries packing bags for children to take home on the weekends, because most of them received a lot of their meals during the school week, I knew I wanted to kind of raise that awareness and also to find a way that, to help those folks.

Wyoming's first lady also mentioned that food insecurity is something that people hide due to the fact that they're embarrassed about the situation. According to the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, approximately 86,000 residents are staring in the face of food insecurity.

Nationwide, as many as 12 million children are in households that are lacking food during the pandemic. The USDA has extended free school lunches through the 2021-22 year, as they announced this past April.

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