A federal program is allowing many Illinois students to eat breakfast and lunch at school for free. Before, low-income families would have to fill out paperwork to be eligible for free or reduced meals. Illinois is one of three states selected for a 4-year pilot program to offer free meals to all students regardless of income. The money to pay for the program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Several schools in districts within each state were chosen for the pilot program, including Springfield.
Jan Miller is the director of food services for the Springfield school district. She says it’s easier to keep track of payments now compared to before…
“Some students would pay full price, some would pay reduced, some would be free. This is every child in the school is considered free and the parents don’t have to complete any applications whatsoever.”
Eligible schools are not required to take part in the free lunch program, but the USDA hopes to expand it to more states in the coming years.
The federal government is expected to reimburse Springfield $68,000 to cover the cost of breakfast and lunch. Of Springfield’s 35 public schools, 31 will participate in the program. It does not include Ball Charter, Iles, Lincoln Magnet, and Springfield High School.