Meal programs for children

In Cook County, nearly 255,000 children - 1 in 5 - are at risk of hunger. Throughout the year, the Food Depository partners with programs in Cook County that provide nutritious meals in school, after school and during the summer. 


Kids Cafes provide children with nutritious meals during the summer and after-school, with some sites that run year-round. Kids Cafes are at local community centers, social service agencies, faith-based organizations, YMCAs, park districts, Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club sites. Some Kids Cafes require enrollment in the host program, but many are open to any child. The Food Depository expects to partner with approximately 50 Kids Cafes during the 2015-2016 school year.


Healthy Kids Market is a school-year program that offers a variety of healthy food, including fresh fruit and vegetables and shelf-stable items like pasta, peanut butter, rice and beans. Volunteers and staff from the school unload, set up and operate the pantry. Each school designates a weekly or bi-monthly pantry time and space, such as the cafeteria or an extra classroom.


In June 2010, the Food Depository launched the Lunch Bus, a mobile meals program that distributes nutritious lunches to children under 18 years old in priority Cook County communities during summer months. In 2015, the Lunch Bus distributed nearly 43,000 meals throughout 21 sites.