Students will still be able to get free meals during the coronavirus school shutdown.
Gov JB Pritzker announced last week that all public and private schools in IL will need to close March 17-30 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There have been many concerns that closing schools could mean students who rely on getting free meals at school might go hungry during this two-week closure. Fortunately, this will not be the case as CPS is turning schools into food distribution centers.
In 2014, CPS began offering free breakfast and lunch to all students as part of the National School Lunch Program, which allows for qualifying low-income school districts to receive reimbursement for free or reduced breakfast and lunch given to its students. 75% of CPS students participate in the free meals program and for some students, the meals they receive at school make up the majority of what they eat. With schools closing, food insecurity is something many families are worried about.
In order to make sure CPS students don’t go hungry during school closures, schools will act as food distribution centers where families can pick up two free meals per child per day. Families will also be allowed to pick up three days’ worth of food at a time, to make food pick-up more accessible to busy families and limit the amount of time outside. Food pick-up will take place outside school buildings from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Mon-Fri.
Families who cannot pick up meals or otherwise need assistance should contact the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about school shutdown protocols, services, and news on the CPS and IL Board of Education websites.