Illinois to offer free meals to youth during summer break

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 1:43 PM CDT
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Illinois will offer free meals to school-aged children at hundreds of sites this summer, using options such as home delivery and drive-through distribution to ensure families that need help can get it during the pandemic.

The Illinois State Board of Education said more organizations are needed to participate in the summer food program, as the number of families relying on the assistance for meals when school isn’t in session has increased due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“COVID-19 has turned many families’ lives upside down,” said State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala. “Illinois’ summer meals programs help to ensure that one thing families do not have to worry about is where their children will get their next meal.”

Ayala said schools have found safe and creative ways to provide food to students while schools have been closed, including curbside pickup and providing meals for multiple days at one time. Those options will continue during the summer.

Schools, faith-based groups, local governments and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to participate, and meals are available to those age 18 and younger. Families may locate their summer food site by calling (800) 359-2163, texting “FoodIL” to 877-877, or visiting