Chicago families will be able to pick up free food for their kids as long as city schools are closed due to the coronavirus — but the number of schools where meals are available will soon be cut in half.
Chicago Public Schools said Wednesday it would consolidate its food distribution effort, which has already provided 2.8 million meals, to focus on the schools that have seen the most demand.
Starting Monday, the first day of CPS’ spring break, lunchroom workers will hand out food at 136 schools from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Thursday. Staff will be given the day off for Good Friday.
Distribution will ramp up again on April 13, but at 276 schools, not the over 510 that were serving as food pickup locations since the program started two weeks ago.
CPS said the consolidation will free up staff to support other schools in case of worker absences, and will allow principals and assistant principals who were overseeing the meal program to focus on remote learning that’s also set to start April 13.
Lunchroom workers who won’t be going to work anymore will still get paid, just like the rest of the district’s teachers and staff.
“Chicago is offering the most ambitious free meal distribution program in the country, and we are committed to providing free meals at the majority of our schools for the entire time schools are closed,” CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson said in a written statement.