clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What you need to know about getting food from Chicago Public Schools during coronavirus closures

Where, when and how you can pick up food for your kids, plus other questions answered.

Students eat breakfast at their desks at Roswell B. Mason Elementary School, 1830 S. Keeler Ave., in November.
Students eat breakfast at their desks at Roswell B. Mason Elementary School, 1830 S. Keeler Ave., in November.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

When Illinois schools close Tuesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus, families across the state will still be able to pick up free food for their kids.

At Chicago Public Schools, which annually serves 40 million lunches and 20 million breakfasts, any family can get food for each student for as long as schools are closed, no questions asked.

Here’s where, when and how you can pick up food for your kids, plus other questions answered:

What’s in the food packages?

Every package will include three days worth of breakfast and lunch for one child. If you have two CPS children, you can pick up two packages, and so on. The packages include a mix of the following for breakfast: cereal, a nutritional bar, an orange or apple and milk. For lunch, they’ll include either a hamburger, a chicken, ham or turkey sandwich, a hot dog, or sunbutter and jelly dippers. Lunch meals will also have fruit, vegetables and chocolate milk.

Do I have to pick up food at my student’s school?

No, you can go to any CPS school to get a package of food. It doesn’t matter if it’s the school your student attends, the school closest to your home or any other school, you can get food there with no questions asked.

If the above map doesn’t show on your device, click here to view it.

What time can I get food?

Starting Tuesday, all CPS schools will operate as food distribution centers from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday until school resumes, at the earliest, on March 31.

What if I don’t have transportation to get to a school?

CPS is offering food delivery for families. If your family needs help, call CPS’ coronavirus command center at (773) 553-5437 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email familyservices@cps.edu.

How often should I pick up food?

CPS is recommending families pick up food every three days.

Who’s handing out the food?

Schools’ usual lunchroom staff will be on hand to distribute food packages. Every CPS employee will be paid their usual wages, but the lunchroom staff distributing food will be paid time-and-a-half. The food is coming from CPS’ usual vendors, Aramark and Sodexo, with some help from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Officials said Monday that pickup points will be set up outside to ensure safe social distancing.

Is CPS going to run out of food at some point?

CPS is confident it won’t run out of food no matter how long these closures last. The district provides free breakfast and lunch at all of its 640 schools every day and has plenty available whether schools are open or closed.

Are crossing guards going to be on duty if we’re walking to school?

Safe Passage workers will be on duty to protect families walking.

Can I drop my student off at school?

No. Unlike during the teachers strike or a snow day when families could drop off students at school if they had no other options, CPS says all school buildings will be closed, and no entrance will be allowed. All schools will go through deep cleans during the closure.

Where can I get more information?

Go to the cps.edu/coronavirus.