Children under 18 can get free meals through state program

Children under 18 can get free meals through state program

Children under 18 can get free meals through state program

The Illinois State Board of Education promotes the “Summer Food Service Program” (SFSP) to provide healthy meals and snacks to Children. Families can find sites by texting “Foodil” to 877-877

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) will provide healthy meals and snacks this summer to children and teens age 18 and younger. The SFSP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education in partnership with local organizations across the state.

Hunger touches every community in Illinois. The need is great for this critical program. Only 11 of every 100 children who receive a meal at school during the school year in Illinois receive an SFSP meal in the summer, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s 2017 Summer Nutrition Status Report.

“Children need healthy food during the summer as much as they need it during the school year,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The Summer Food Service Program brings critical resources to communities across the state and helps all our children stay ready to learn. ISBE is proud to administer the Summer Food Service Program.”

State of Illinois Summer Food Service Program provides meals for young people under the age of 19

State of Illinois Summer Food Service Program provides meals for young people under the age of 19

Illinois sponsored more than 1,900 SFSP sites last summer throughout the state. Families can find their nearest summer meals site by calling (800) 359-2163, texting “FoodIL” to 877-877, or visiting



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The SFSP provides funding to public or private nonprofit Local Education Agencies; entities of state, local, municipal, or county government; residential camps; private nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status; and faith-based organizations to serve nutritious meals to children during the summer months when schools are not in session.

All participating SFSP sponsors must provide free meals to all sites that meet income eligibility. Income eligibility can be determined through school attendance area data, census data, or household eligibility data.

Open sites and restricted open sites, which serve areas in which poor economic conditions exist, must provide meals to all children without charge. The meals must be the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Sites will provide meals on a first-come, first-served basis.

Enrolled sites and camps must provide meals to all eligible children free of charge. Children must meet the income guidelines for reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program to be eligible to receive free meals at a residential camp or nonresidential camp. The income guidelines for reduced-price meals by family size are listed below. Children who are part of households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits or benefits under Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible to receive free meals. Acceptance and participation requirements for the program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

There will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service at any sites.


Household Size      Annual          Monthly      Twice Per Month    Every Two Weeks    Weekly
1                               22,311              1,860                   930                                  859               430
2                               30,044            2,504                1,252                               1,156                578
3                               37,777             3,149                 1,575                               1,453                727
4                              45,510              3,793                1,897                               1,751                876
5                               53,243             4,437                2,219                               2,048           1,024
6                              60,976             5,082               2,541                               2,346             1,173
7                              68,709             5,726                2,863                              2,643             1,322
8                              76,442             6,371                 3,186                               2,941            1,471

For each additional family member, add: 

7,733                 645                   323                                  298               149

If a household’s income falls within or below the listed guidelines, a family member should contact the site’s sponsor to learn the benefits of the program. If the site does not meet area eligibility, families may be required to complete an application and provide income, TANF, or SNAP information. Please contact ISBE at (800) 545-7892 or at for possible alternative methods to meet site eligibility.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) found on the USDA website and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit the completed form or letter to USDA by (1) mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW; Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax at (202) 690-7442; or (3) email at

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at

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