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updated: 6/10/2013 4:24 PM

W. Chicago library to offer free summer lunch program

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Shelley Campbell, Public Relations Specialist and Gina Steinbrecher, Community Relations Specialist

As school comes to an end in West Chicago Elementary School District 33, and summer begins, the West Chicago Public Library District will begin to serve free lunch throughout the summer months with food provided by Northern Illinois Food Bank.

In years past, District 33 worked with Northern Illinois Food Bank to offer the free summer lunch program to children under the age of 18 years. This year, the West Chicago Public Library has offered to continue this program.

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. Studies show that access to healthy, well-balanced meals go hand-in-hand with student's ability to learn in the classroom, to grow up healthy and to reach their fullest potential. The summer lunch program represents a wonderful collaboration between District 33, the West Chicago Public Library and Northern Illinois Food Bank.

"We have worked closely with the West Chicago Public Library on many initiatives and they have been wonderful partners with District 33. We were so happy when they offered to take on this program. There are many families who have benefited from the Community Eligibility Option Program, a program from the United States Department of Agriculture that provided free breakfast and lunch to students during the school year. Now, because the Library will be hosting the free summer lunch program, our children in the community will have the opportunity to receive nutritious meals throughout the summer months," stated Marjory Lewe-Brady, Director of Partnerships for Wellness, Safety and Achievement in District 33.

Free lunch will be offered for children up to age 18 daily, Monday through Friday, from June 17 through August 23 in the program room at the Library from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. No registration or proof of income is required. The lunches, which are to be consumed at the Library, will be served while supplies last on a first come, first served basis.

"We take our role as a community partner very seriously, and we are very excited to be able to offer this service to families in our community this summer. This program allows us to help fill the crucial nutritional needs of children in the District while also offering opportunities for literacy programming and services to those who may not have been regular Library users in the past," says Melody E. Coleman, Administrative Librarian for the West Chicago Public Library District. "This meaningful collaboration between three committed agencies will help bridge the hunger gap this summer for children in West Chicago," she added.

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."