H-F Free Lunch Program Continues Amid Pandemic


Infographic courtesy of H-F

H-F has been distributing free meals to students twice a week. Each package includes enough food for two meals, breakfast and lunch, everyday for a week.

By Alana DeRose, Samantha Gorton and Kailyn Kirkman

H-F offers free lunch and breakfast to all students on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the month of December.

The Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Programs Mandate requires that every public school has a free lunch program that provides lunches and breakfasts to students eligible to receive free meals. Neglecting this mandate would be breaking Illinois state law. 

For the semester, H-F has provided free lunch in order to meet this mandate.

¨A USDA reimbursement program has made it possible for any student to receive food, through December, regardless of free or reduced status,¨ business office manager Lisa Caposey said.

In general, H-F’s meal pickup has been successful, with many families relying on the weekly pick-up.

According to Caposey, “On average, starting in October, there are 125 students picking up food.¨ 

Because of the pandemic, the school had to come up with a creative solution to make sure students get their lunches. The pick-up is conducted as safely as possible, with all CDC guidelines followed, including social distancing and wearing masks.

Additionally, ¨people picking up [meals] remain in their vehicles, [while] meals are either placed in the car trunk or handed through an open window,¨ said Caposey.

These meals can be picked up outside, near the back side of the north building, across from the football field, and handed out at Oakwood apartments in Chicago Heights. Meals are handed out every week on Mondays and Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m.

The meal program has allowed H-F to hand out breakfast and lunch and is costing the school “at most $75,000” stated by Lawrence Cook, who’s one of the business managers at H-F. 

Although not every student will be picking up meals, making sure that there are plenty of meals available is important because many students rely on H-F as a source of food. Without school most students wouldn’t be able to get the nutrition they need, and nutrition is related to student success in school so H-F continues to fully support the program. 

“We know that good nutrition is related to student success in and school and fully support the program,” Principal Jerry Lee Anderson said. 

The lunches offered by this program are selected based on the guidelines set by the state of Illinois, and every lunch needs to meet students’ nutritional needs. Thus, H-F offers a diverse menu that always meets the same nutritional standard set by the state.

“The menus are consistent with Federal Dietary Guidelines, and vary from day to day. Breakfast might be a muffin, a bagel, or cereal along with fruit and milk. Lunch entrees range from sandwiches or wrap to specially packaged reheatable entrees such as pasta, along either fruit or vegetable and milk,¨ said Caposey.