Free lunches during COVID-19


Kassem Ossman

The free and reduced program has been opened to everyone

District 99 helps families who are struggling during the pandemic as much as they can by setting up pickup stations to offer free meals for the week. Pairing up with both District 58 and District 68 to broaden the number of people who can get these meals. These meals are open to everyone under the age of 18, allowing children to get the food they need.

With COVID-19 affecting many people and what they can and can’t afford it has become harder for many families to get food that is both nutritious and healthy. District 99 has made sure that every student has enough food by allowing the Child Nutrition program to let every student get a free breakfast and lunch.

Business Manager Jeree Ethridge talks about the program and what has changed due to COVID-19.

“Starting around last April when the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] waved all the general requirements to the breakfast and lunch programs, opening it up to all children under the age of 18. There’s breakfast and lunch six days a week, however, we just received approval to do seven days a week and we are now waiting for dinner meals which would be five days a week – Monday through Friday – It’s just open to everybody, schools that are in session right now, they provide lunches so if you want lunch you can grab it for the whole year and it reimburses from the government,” Ethridge said

Ethridge continues to talk about the program.

“We partnered with District 58 and District 68 and we promoted the meal program to all families in the community. There are various sights that people can go to pick up the meals, they are listed on the website because it changes depending on the number of people picking up meals. At this moment we are at six sights: Both high schools and around apartment complexes usually,” Ethridge said.

She also talks about the process of picking the meals up.

“Right now we are doing a one-day pickup so with that pickup they are getting six breakfasts and lunches but starting 11/30 it will be seven. We don’t take anyone’s name or any information from them because this is a federal program and we don’t need any data,” Ethridge said.

To visit the website to see where the closest pickup stop is, visit here.