A regional Russian ombudsman says a growing number of children have been fainting from hunger at school, suggesting that they cannot afford to buy lunch.
Dmitry Kislitsyn expressed concern about the phenomenon when he presented a report to the regional assembly in the Kemerovo region in central Siberia on January 23.
"Some children [in the region] go to lunch at school, but others sit in their classrooms and do not eat lunch," the Interfax news agency quoted Kislitsyn as saying.
"Cases of children fainting from hunger have increased, which causes concern," he said.
The ombudsman suggested that these children's parents cannot afford to feed them breakfast, "let alone the 50 rubles [$0.75] that the children must pay for lunch."
"These are not isolated cases -- first there was one child [who fainted from hunger], now there are a whole bunch," he said, adding that the problem appeared to be worse at rural schools and among children who travel to school from rural areas.
Russian media reported that revised sanitary rules for state-run Russian schools prohibit schools from using food or ingredients brought by students from their homes in preparing meals.
But the consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, which sets the rules, said that they did not forbid children bringing food from home and eating it at school.
It was not immediately clear whether the new rules are already being implemented.