Thursday, July 19, 2007

Schools Serve Meals During the Summer

By Lorraine Swanson
Pioneer Press News-Star

Chicago Public School students don't have to go hungry this summer thanks to the Seamless Summer Option program that is keeping most public school cafeterias open during the summer break.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and supported by the Illinois State Board of Education, communities where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals during the regular school year are offering the program to all children age 18 and under. Children do not need to be enrolled at participating schools during the summer or regular school year to receive a free breakfast or lunch.
"Our schools serve as important feeding centers for children in low-income families during the school year, and we want to make sure they can continue that critically important role over the summer," CPS Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan said.
CPS is also teaming up with the Illinois Hunger Coalition which is helping to get the word out about the program through schools, churches and community organizations. Last summer, the federally-sponsored program served more than 4.7 million meals to low-income kids in neighborhoods across the city.
"When you have families that are very low income, kids are often on their own during the day when parents are working. When parents find out there is some place where kids can get fed, they're excited," said Diane Doherty, executive director of the Illinois Hunger Coalition.
Cafeterias will close, however, when high school summer programs end Aug. 3, Aug. 10 or Aug. 17, per the school's discretion. Doherty said the Illinois Hunger Coalition is working to line up churches and other sites that can continue offering the summer food program until Chicago Public Schools re-open for the regular school year on Sept. 4.
Anyone who is interested in the Seamless Summer food program can call the Illinois Hunger Coalition's toll-free hotline at 1-800-359-2163 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (Spanish available), or call the neighborhood school to see if free summer meals are being offered. Churches and other facilities with refrigeration and dining space who wish to help continue serving free meals to kids until school starts in the fall, should also contact the Illinois Hunger Coalition's toll-free hotline.
The following schools are offering free meals through Aug. 18. Some schools may ask kids for an ID or address to show that students live in the neighborhood.
Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave. Breakfast, 7:15 to 8 a.m. and lunch, 10:55 to 11:15 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Lakeview High School, 4015 N. Ashland Ave. Lunch, 10 to 10:45 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Mather High School, 5835 N. Lincoln Ave. Breakfast, 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch, 10 to 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Roosevelt High School, 3436 W. Wilson Ave. Breakfast, 7:30 to 7:55 a.m. and lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Noon to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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