Quality food is essential for children to learn, grow, and play. Unfortunately, one in six Cook County children are at risk of hunger. We partner with schools and community organizations all year to ensure that children in our community have the healthy food they need.
Our Year-Round Programs for Children & Students
Healthy Student Market
Healthy Student Markets (formerly Healthy Kids Markets) are market-style food distributions located in schools. They provide nutritious food to students and families who may not be able to visit a traditional food pantry. The Food Depository provides a variety of healthy foods to stock the market, including fresh fruits 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 market.
Since 2016, the Food Depository has also partnered with the City Colleges of Chicago to make Healthy Student Markets available on campus. These distributions reach the increasing number of students who are at risk of food insecurity.
Rise & Shine Illinois
This advocacy campaign works to raise awareness for the importance of school breakfast. The Food Depository partners with No Kid Hungry Illinois to increase participation in school breakfast while educating policymakers and the public about its crucial role in kids’ health and academic success. In 2016, Illinois passed the Breakfast After the Bell bill, which expands access to breakfast in the classroom. This approach reduces the barriers that children face to breakfast participation. Learn more about school breakfast at the Rise & Shine Illinois site.
Our Seasonal Programs
Kids Cafe® is a national initiative of Feeding America administered locally by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Since 1993, the Food Depository’s Kids Cafes have partnered with after-school programs to provide healthy meals for children in a safe, nurturing environment. For many, it may be the only wholesome meal they have all day. All Kids Cafes provide enrichment programming in addition to healthful, appealing meals. Kids Cafe meals are reimbursed by the Child and Adult Care Food Program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The application to host after-school meals in the 2019-2020 school year is now available. Apply online to host after-school meals.
Summer Meals/Lunch Bus
Children who receive free and reduced-price meals at school often lack access to nutritious food during the summer. Summer meal sites and our mobile Lunch Bus program aim to reach these children in convenient neighborhood locations. Learn more about summer meal programs for children.
Local youth programs can apply to host summer meals. The application to host a summer meal program will be available online in February 2020.