As school winds down for suburban students, summer meal programs are gearing up.
More than two dozen sites across six suburban counties will serve free meals open to all children during the summer, the Northern Illinois Food Bank announced. Other sites will provide summer meals for children who are affiliated with the hosting organization.
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Open sites for summer mealsMore than two dozen sites across the suburbs will serve free meals open to all children during the summer, the Northern Illinois Food Bank announced. They are:
Astor Avenue Community Center, 7431 Astor Ave., Hanover Park
Batavia Apartments, 1259 E. Wilson St., Batavia
Clifford Owasco Park, 691 Clifford Court, Elgin
Cornerstone Park, corner of Mulberry Lane & Lilac Lane, Elgin
Eastside Recreation Center, 1080 E. Chicago St., Elgin
Harriet Gifford School, 240 S. Clifton Ave., Elgin
Lords Park Pavilion, 100 Oakwood Blvd., Elgin
Observatory Park, 259 National St., Elgin
Salvation Army Elgin, 316 Douglas Ave., Elgin
St Francis Park, 227 Jefferson Ave., Elgin
Anne M. Jeans Elementary School, 16W631 91st St., Willowbrook
Henry Hyde Resource Center, 199 Michael Lane, Addison
Warrenville Park District, 3S260 Warren Ave., Warrenville
Woodridge Community Resource Center, 8274 Janes Ave., Woodridge
York Community Resource Center, 1S071 Luther Ave., Lombard Lake County
Beacon Place, 603 McAlister Ave, Waukegan
Park City Teen Center, 333 Teske Blvd., Park City
Marion Jones Community Center, 1401 Sherman Ave., North Chicago
First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb
Bolingbrook Park District, 335 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook
Friendship Centre at Highpoint, W175 Highpoint Drive, Romeoville
Glad Tidings Apostolic Assembly, 351 Veterans Parkway, Bolingbrook
George Werden Buck B&G Club, 226 E. Clinton St., Joliet
Hartman Open Park, 511 N. Collins St., Joliet
Housing Authority of Joliet, 1426 Englewood Ave., Joliet
Shiloh Missionary, 18101 W. Oak Ave., Lockport
The goal of the program is to fill the gap for students who get free or reduced-price lunches at their schools during the academic year but might go hungry while school is out of session.
Donna Lake, communications director at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, said nearly 200,000 young people in northern Illinois face hunger.
"These children don't always know when their next meal will be," Lake said. "These programs are critical to ensuring children have the nutrition they need over the summer."
The summer program officially runs from June 3 through Aug. 24, but certain sites will open and end on different dates depending on the school schedules in their communities.
Many sites offer breakfast and lunch to children up to age 18, while some provide one meal and a snack.
The Salvation Army in Elgin is participating in the Summer Food Service Program. Liza Ayala, a case manager, said as many as 50 children show up for lunch each day, depending on the weather. Many of them are from families that benefit from the Salvation Army's Friday food distribution program.
"It's a good thing we're here," Ayala said. "The parents are used to the kids getting free lunch at school and now they have to come up with an extra meal to feed them."
Ayala said parents often come with their children for the summer lunches to sit with them while they eat.
Katie Kowalczyk, child nutrition program specialist at Northern Illinois Food Bank, said organizers hope to reach more than 6,500 kids this summer with meals at about 80 sites.
For details about when sites start serving and which meals are offered, call Kowalczyk at (630) 443-6910 or contact the organizations providing the meals.