Classes may be out of session, but a state program providing free breakfasts and lunches for students will continue this summer at schools -- including one in Elgin -- worship centers, parks and community centers statewide.
The Summer Meals program, designed to promote healthy eating habits, is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. Last year, more than 106,500 low-income children daily ate free meals through summer food programs.
An expected 4 million free meals will be served through August at 2,200 sites, including Abbott Middle School in Elgin, to children and teens 18 and younger. They won't need to apply or show proof of family income to receive a meal. Disabled adults 18 to 21 years old enrolled in school and having an Individualized Education Program may also participate.
Abbot, 949 Van St., is the only location in the Northwest suburbs serving summer meals. Serving sites are located in areas where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced meals from the National School Lunch Program or the family's income is 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
"No child should go without food," Gov. Pat Quinn said in a news release. "We know that children who continue to follow a nutritious diet are more likely to return to school healthy, happy and ready to learn."
Participation in summer nutrition programs has increased nationally. Nearly 3 million children received meals on an average day during the summer. The programs served 15.1 children for every 100 low-income children participating in school lunch during the 2012-2013 school year.
The state education board in partnership with Share Our Strength, a national child anti-hunger organization, launched the Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign.
Families can text "FoodIL" in English or "AlimentosIL" in Spanish to 877-877. They will be prompted to send a ZIP code and will receive the address and serving times of the closest meal sites. Residents also can call the Illinois Hunger Coalition's hunger hotline at (800) 359-2163. For more information, visit summerfeedingillinois.org.