CUSD-200 Hands Out Lunches To Families In Need


Ceaira West-Hooper, Staff Writer

Every year 30.3 million students receive free or reduced lunches from their schools because their families can’t afford to pay full price or for enough food in general. During the time that schools are out for quarantine, the CUSD-200 faculty and volunteers are helping to put together healthy lunches that are able to be picked up by families who need them every school day. 

One of the distribution sites is Franklin Middle School, where everyday from 9-12 students come to pick up as many lunches as their families need. These lunches are necessary for many families who struggled to afford food before the lockdown, and are having an especially hard time now that most jobs are closed. Russell Hooper, a teacher volunteer for the free lunch program said, “It’s extremely hard to see your students and their families struggle during these times, because they’re such good kids, they were just handed a bad hand in life.” Mr. Hooper volunteers about once a week at Franklin Middle School where he teaches 6th grade. 

Not only does the district provide free bagged lunches, they also provide mobile food pantries for lesser fortunate families. The food pantries supply a week’s worth of groceries to families who cannot afford to buy necessities when they can’t work. In the District 200 family alone, 3,310 students are eligible for free lunches provided by the school system, and these past weeks the strain on struggling families continued to grow. “Many families come to pick up lunches, and get 8 at a time because so many families can’t get to the distribution sites that their friend’s or neighbors help out.” said Hooper. “And there are so many families in our community that have 5 or 6 kids, and without their jobs they can barely afford their house bills.”

Last week, three mobile food pantries ran out of groceries to give out and still had many families looking for help. According to the district 200 emails sent out almost daily, “Each mobile pantry can feed at least 250 families with a week’s worth of groceries including fresh produce, protein, milk and eggs.” Meaning over 750 families came to receive these weekly supplies. 

With the lack of income in many households, families are often forced to survive on unemployment checks or forced to get essential jobs at places like grocery stores. Many families are strained for the supplies needed for their children to do their school work from home. In a recent email the district announced that it will be holding “school supply distribution sites” for families lacking the necessary tools for their students to be successful. 

While governor J.B. Pritzker has been working hard to help with finances and assisting in these hard times, a lot of the burden is left on the school system. CUSD-200 is trying to keep up with the need for food and supplies for it’s families but is accepting donations from families more financially stable during these hard times online on the Student Excellence Foundation website. Any and all donations are appreciated as the community works together to fight to survive these challenging times.