Senator BeltSPRINGFIELD – School districts will create a food sharing program for unused food that students can take home thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) that was signed into law today.

“All children need food to thrive, especially when they leave school,” Belt said. “This program builds upon the state’s breakfast and lunch program that is already in place to ensure that kids are fed three healthy meals a day.”

The new law requires all school districts to incorporate a food sharing plan for unused food into their local wellness policy. The program will focus on needy students, with the plan being developed and supported jointly by the district’s local health department.

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.

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

“Leftover food should not be thrown away, especially when people are in need,” Belt said. “Many families struggle to keep food on the table and this program will help ensure that our youth are not going to bed hungry.”

The law takes effect immediately.