SPRINGFIELD -- Low-income Illinois students who want to participate in free food summer programs can apply soon.
Programs are available for students up to age 18 when school isn't in session. The Illinois State Board of Education says the application period is March 4 through June 15.
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Education officials say the program helps fill the nutritional gap between the last day and the first day of school. They also say good nutrition helps keep young brains active and engaged in learning inside and outside the classroom.
The food sites are located in areas where most children are eligible for free and reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program.
In 2011, more than 109,000 low-income students ate free meals through the summer program.