The free breakfast and lunch program for students in Homewood District 153 and Flossmoor District 161 will be extended through April 7 in response to Gov. J.B Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.
District 161 announced the extension in a March 24 press release.
Originally scheduled to run through April 3, the program came out of the partnership of both districts, providing free breakfast and sack lunches to all their students age 18 and below. The lunches consist of nut-free sandwiches and wraps with milk.
John Gibson, chief school business official in the Homewood district, said providing students with meals will continue to be a priority for as long as necessary.
“We’ll continue to make sure that our kids have meals available, whether we’re providing them, whether we’re partnering with another school district, or whether we use an outside agency for a limited period of time,” Gibson said.
So far, food supply hasn’t been an issue for the program but figuring out the number of lunches that need to be made per day has been a challenge, he said.
“We typically know in our normal school days how many kids are going to come into the lunchroom,” Gibson said. “But with this situation, we just didn’t know how many kids were going to come.”
Staff members were tasked with tallying the number of kids who picked up lunches in addition to the number of lunches handed out. Gibson said meals for more than 220 students were distributed in the week starting March 16 while slightly more than 90 kids picked up lunches this week.
District 153 has hosted the program at James Hart School since March 17. On Monday March 30, the program for both districts will shift to Parker Junior High School in Flossmoor.
The Parker distribution is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday. Two breakfasts and lunches, for Monday and Tuesday, will be provided at that time.
That procedure will be repeated at the same time on Wednesday, April 1. Breakfasts and lunches for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be distributed.
The Monday and Wednesday food distribution will continue while students are out of school because of the stay-at-home order, the District 161 press release states.
Participants have been asked to stay in their cars during pick-up and to wait to be directed by staff. They should enter the Parker parking lot from Flossmoor Road. That entrance is marked as one-way in the other direction but that prohibition has been waived for the food pickup program.