Statewide Coalition Advocates for Funding Healthy School Meals for All Illinois Students

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Healthy School Meals for All Kids, a coalition dedicated to ensuring all Illinois students have access to free school meals, today called on the General Assembly to provide $209 million in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget to fund breakfast and lunch for all Illinois students. The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman and State Representative Maurice West, are being filed. Giving all children access to free healthy school meals is proven to improve their health, well-being, and academic performance. The Illinois General Assembly recognized this, passing the Healthy School Meals for All bill in Spring 2023, which provides free breakfast and lunch to all students who want it in the state. However, while the legislation passed with strong, bipartisan support, it did not receive the appropriation to make it a reality.  It’s crucial that Illinois passes the funding in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget so the state doesn’t continue to lag further behind the other states that have passed and funded permanent school meal policies. Eight other states, including neighboring Minnesota and Michigan, have universal school meals because they know how important it is.  Making free school meals available to all students can help advance racial equity and reduce disparities in health and education outcomes, as Black and Latine children are twice as likely to experience food insecurity as white children. By funding school meals for all students, Illinois can expand access to meals to all of those who need them. While more than 315,000 children in Illinois experience food insecurity, 21 percent of those children were not eligible for free or reduced-price school meal programs in 2020 due to outdated income eligibility requirements. To learn more, visit

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