Kankakee school district now offers free dinner
The old adage once said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” However, students at Kankakee School District 111 now can say there is such a thing as a free breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The district started its free afterschool dinner program on Monday, serving cold cuts to 45 student-athletes at Kankakee Junior High School.
The program, which is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will serve dinner to all students from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will serve three hot meals and two cold meals each week.
“It takes care of students who are in after-school programs or have parents who are working,” said Beth Proctor, the district’s director of food services. “Children will have a chance to eat a meal before they go to their after-school activity. They will have a meal to tide them over before they go home.”
Right now, the program only is operating out of Kankakee Junior High School. However, it is open to all students in the district. Students do not have to sign up or prove their family’s income. The district plans on expanding the program to Kankakee High School once renovations are complete.
On Monday, the district bused 45 soccer and tennis players from the high school to the junior high school to get their pre-practice meals.
“It’s a big upgrade to school because we never had this before,” junior tennis player Madeline Marin said. “People should take advantage of it because it gives you a good meal before a tennis match.”
“It helps us recover and fuel up before a game,” sophomore soccer player Bryan Cintora added. “It will help us get more energy to chase down opponents. Before, we would just go straight to a game. I wouldn’t eat dinner until 7 p.m. Now, I can eat and stay energized. It’s going to help us in the long run.”
With the after school supper program in place, Kankakee school district now offers free breakfast, lunch and dinner to all students. Breakfast and lunches are available through the Community Eligibility Program.
“Kids need constant fuel,” Proctor said. “Now, they can get three meals through school each day. Any of them can come to the junior high after school and eat. Bring your school books, sit down, study and have a meal.”
The dinner program will resume on Friday since school will be cut short today, Wednesday and Thursday because of excessive heat.