Free Meal Program Continues Across Illinois During Summer Vacation

More than 2,100 sites serving free breakfast and lunch SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced that approximately 2,100 sites are expected to serve free breakfast and lunch to children and teens ages 18 and younger across Illinois during summer vacation. At more than half the sites, children and teens will not have to apply or show any proof of family income in order to receive a meal.

“These healthy meals will help keep students well-fed and prepared for success when the school bell rings this fall,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Research clearly shows proper nutrition impacts student achievement.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the Summer Meals program and ISBE administers the program in Illinois. Summer feeding sites include schools, places of worship and faith, community facilities and parks.

Families can search for a nearby site offering free meals at ISBE has partnered with Share Our Strength, a national child anti-hunger organization, to address childhood hunger with the Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign.

Individuals also can text the words “FoodIL” to 877-877. Upon texting, individuals will be prompted to send a full mailing address, after which they will receive the address and serving times of the closest summer meals sites.

Despite a slight increase in the number of low-income children eating summer meals nationwide in July 2012, the nation’s Summer Nutrition Programs continue to fall far short of the goal to curb summer hunger, according to a recent report by the Food Research and Action Center ( The “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation:Summer Nutrition Status Report” and a summary are available online at

According to the report, Illinois saw a small increase, in the number of lunches served from June-August 2012 compared to the previous summer. Experts estimated nearly 63,000 children in Illinois were served meals during each of the past two summers.

With 2,155 sites this year across the state, compared to about 1,900 last summer, the Illinois State Board of Education hopes to provide more healthy meals for Illinois schoolchildren this summer.

“We encourage families to take advantage of our state’s summer meals program,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Absolutely no child should go hungry anytime of the year in the United States of America. Children who maintain healthy habits during the summer are more likely to be prepared to succeed in school this fall.”