Free meals are available this summer for kids who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank will offer daily meals during the week at more than 120 sites in 13 counties across northern Illinois as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. That includes DeKalb, Kane, McHenry and Ogle Counties.
Brandon Pettigrew is with the Northern Illinois Food Bank. He says schools can provide meals to children at risk of hunger – but only during the school year.
“With nearly 200, 000 kids in our service area who are food insecure, it’s very important for us to make sure that we’re filling that gap,” Pettigrew says.
The meals are also available to those over 18 who are enrolled in a state-approved program for the mentally or physically disabled.
Other organizations in Winnebago, Boone and other counties in Illinois, as well as others in Wisconsin and other states, are also participating in the program.
Pettigrew says the meals help families living on the edge financially who rely on the free breakfast and lunch programs at school to get by.
“It can be very stressful for food insecure families to have to provide one to two extra meals during the summer each day,” he says.
Most sites are offering lunch. Some offer breakfast, and a few both. Meals will be served up to the start of the school year in August.
Many sites have already started serving meals. Others begin by the second full week of June. All will continue into sometime in August, depending on the start of the local school year.
You can find locations offering meals sponsored by the Northern Illinois Food Bank through its website. The Illinois State Board of Education has a list of meal sites for the entire state. And the USDA has an interactive map that lets you find sites throughout the country.