HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — More than 1.7 million public and private school students in Pennsylvania will be able to get breakfast for free under a plan that will begin next month and run through the school year, officials announced Friday.

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“It doesn’t take research study to tell us that letting a child go hungry is morally wrong,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “We also know it doesn’t help in your education process, which hurts all of us.”

The $21.5 million plan will be paid for with money from the previous year’s School Food Services General Fund appropriation. Schools that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs will receive support from the program.

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The pandemic-era federal aid that made school meals available for free to all public school students, ended this past school year, despite a push in Congress to extend it. In Pennsylvania, officials say breakfast consumption under the free meals program increased by 16%, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Nationwide, other states have adopted legislation to provide free meals regardless of income level.