Northern Illinois Food Bank provides free meals to kids during summer break from school

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Northern IL food bank provides free meals to kids during summer break
The Northern Illinois Food Banks has dozens of programs for providing free meals to kids during summer break from school, but they need your support.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- School may be out for summer, but kids still need to eat. For those who qualify for free and reduced price meals at school, finding nutritious meals in the summer month scan be challenging.

Celia Avalos-Courtney brought her son Marcus to Phillips Park in Aurora Wednesday, where the Northern Illinois Food Bank distributes free lunches.

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"It's a good program. Very helpful in the summer," she said.

The food bank's Meals on the Move program is one of the services that provides federally subsidized meals to about 7,000 kids a day throughout Northern Illinois in the summer.

"When school is out of session, depending on the family, it can be difficult for parents to provide enough food for each day," said Katie Scott of the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

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The food bank sponsors about 140 programs, all specifically targeted for the months kids are out of school. The state school board also sponsors numerous free summer meal programs targeted at low income communities.

"We know hunger doesn't end in the summer," said program administrator Tim Murphy.

Meeting the need can be challenging, however, because unlike the holiday season, when donations generally come flowing in, the summer months can be lean or fundraising and volunteers. And thanks to inflation, the need is greater than ever.

"When we see fewer contributions coming in, at the same time we're seeing more folks coming to us needing some help," said Julie Yurko, CEO Northern Illinois Food Bank.

In order to combat the shortage of volunteers in the summer months, the food bank encourages those who are able to make it to bring friends and family, and hopefully they will become regulars.

More information about the Northern Illinois Food Banks's summer meals program can be found at their Meals on the Move website.

You can get more information about the Illinois State Board of Education meal programs by calling 800-359-2163.