Illinois officials announced the Summer Food Service Program will provide free meals to school-aged children over the summer as families struggle with income challenges amid the pandemic.
The Illinois State Board of Education said the number of families relying on government-provided meals has increased since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
"COVID-19 has turned many families' lives upside down. Illinois' summer meals programs help to ensure that one thing families to not have to worry about is where their children will get their next meal," said State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala.
Ayala said the ISBE encourages all school districts to evaluate the needs of their communities and to participate in the summer food programs, if possible.
The summer food program will utilize curbside pickup and home delivery to ensure social distancing guidelines are met, along with preparing meals days and weeks in advance.
In partnership with Share Our Strength, a national child anti-hunger organization, and other organizations, the Rise and Shine Illinois campaign aims to end childhood hunger using federally-funded child nutrition programs, according to the organization's website.
Families can find more information by calling 1(800)359-2163 or visiting www.summermealsillinois.org