Senator BeltSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) that would require the Illinois State Board of Education to create an unused food program for schools passed the State Senate on Thursday.

“No child in Illinois should go to bed hungry,” Belt said. “This program will build on the success of the free lunch and breakfast program the state already has in place.”

The program would allow public schools to provide their leftover food to students who already receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast. Like the free lunch and breakfast program, the food must be free to the students.

Currently, every school in Illinois must offer its free lunch and breakfast program to all eligible students. To be eligible, a student must be the recipient of SNAP benefits or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The new program would use the same eligibility requirements.

Similar programs already exist in states like Indiana. School districts partner with non-profits to take leftover food and prepare frozen take-home meals for students over the weekends.

“Right now, the state makes sure that our students in need do not go hungry during the school day,” Belt said. “This measure would ensure that those same students have food when they go home.”

Senate Bill 805 passed the Illinois Senate with a vote of 56-0 and now heads to the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.