School Meals Matter for Schools!
⚫ Free healthy school meals for all relieves schools of the administrative burden and school meal debt associated with operating eligibility-based federal meal programs.3 The average annual school meal debt in Illinois is $170.52 per child, equating to $15.5 million in total Illinois meal debt.18
⚫ Illinois Schools Need More Funding to Feed Students
- Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Program funding has been cut from $26.3 million in FY 2023 down to $9 million since FY 2015,9,10 and schools are only receiving ~$0.02 per free meal served, far less than the $0.15 currently required in Illinois statute.12 $9 million is the minimum maintenance of effort level required of Illinois to receive federal reimbursement. Illinois must do more to feed our kids!
- The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a federal program that enables schools and school districts with a high proportion of students from low-income families to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.12 1,823 schools in Illinois currently use CEP.13 Approximately 43% of Illinois schools likely eligible for CEP do not participate,4 potentially due to inadequate federal reimbursement to eligible schools with lower percentages of identified students.14