News and events

At-Risk After-School Meals Webinar

Register for After-School Meals 101: Starting Your CACFP At-Risk After-School Meals Program – April 16th at 1pm

After-school meals serve a critical need for hungry children in Illinois.  Many schools and organizations already serve snacks or meals in their after-school programs yet they are doing this out of their own cost.  Reimbursements are available to serve free snacks and meals to children in eligible after-school programs through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk After-School Meals Program. Join the Illinois State Board of Education and No Kid Hungry Illinois in this webinar to learn how you can start or expand your after-school meals program through CACFP At-Risk and become a stable source of nutrition in your community! Topics covered will include:

  • Current state of after-school meals in Illinois
  • General CACFP At-Risk program information
  • Eligibility, application, administration and reporting requirements for:
    – Potential new sponsors or sites
    – Schools offering snacks through the CACFP or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) looking to
    transition to offering meals
    – Summer Food Service Program sponsors looking to offer meals year-round through CACFP
  • Best practices and tools for implementation and outreach
  • Resources and No Kid Hungry Illinois after-school grant opportunities
Register now! 

Recent data on food insecurity, poverty, school breakfast

Research underscores high need, importance of child nutrition programs

Blue Island

A summer meals site in Blue Island.

Four important data sets released in recent weeks characterize the depth of food insecurity and poverty in Illinois and the extent to which programs like school breakfast are making progress. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2015, released today, 643,040 children in Illinois were food insecure in 2013–a troubling 1 in 5 children under the age of 18. Illinois’ child food insecurity rate has ranged between 20.8 percent and 23.3 percent in the five years that state rates have been available. Two counties in Illinois, Alexander and Hardin, have child food insecurity rates of more than 30 percent and are among the highest rates in the nation.  Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.


Another recent report highlights child poverty, a key factor in food insecurity. Illinois Kids Count 2015, a project of Voices for Illinois Children released in February, shows that child poverty rates in Illinois are higher than pre-recession levels and are much higher than in 2000. In 2013, 21 percent of Illinois children lived in households with incomes below poverty level, compared with 17 percent in 2007 and 15 percent in 2000. The dramatic increase confirms what economists tell us and what we observe in the community: a high, sustained need remains in the community. Further, the poverty level for a family of three is only $18,750. It’s likely that many people are struggling to make ends meet who are above the poverty level, particularly in communities where $18,750 is only enough to cover housing costs.

Two other findings from Kids Count:

  • The number of children in poverty in Illinois increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 634,000 in 2012.
  • The City of Chicago accounted for 46 percent of the state’s child poverty population in 1999 but only 33 percent in 2012. The share in the metropolitan suburbs rose from 22 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2012.

Federal nutrition programs, working in harmony with nonprofit organizations, provide the majority of food for families who are struggling to make ends meet. Schools can be the conduit for reaching more low-income children, in particular at the start of the school day. (Indeed, this is what the Rise and Shine Illinois campaign is all about!). With that in mind, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its annual School Breakfast Scorecard last month. While the nation has made progress, Illinois dropped to 40th nationally based on its ratio of breakfasts to lunches for free and reduced-price eligible students (note Illinois’ ratio essentially remained static while other states rose).



Finally, the Rise and Shine Illinois School Breakfast Report, compiled by Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, provides a sunnier outlook on breakfast. Analyzing three years of data from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Report shows that average daily breakfast participation per school has increased from 106.1 students in 2011-2012 to 115.2 students in 2013-2014. Yet Illinois leaves $90.4 million in federal funding on the table because schools do not serve breakfast. (The Rise and Shine Illinois report differs from the Scorecard in several ways, but most importantly in that it benchmarks against “possible meals served” rather than lunch participation.)

The research underscores the importance of keeping up momentum for our programs, especially as the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization is debated in Congress this year. Much work remains, and that’s what Rise and Shine Illinois is here for: providing funding and technical assistance, literally from Rockford to Cairo. We hope you’ll join us: Rise and Shine Illinois has breakfast grant deadlines April 15 and June 15, and you can take our breakfast pledge by clicking here.

What’s next? The Annual Illinois Hunger Summit takes place May 5 at the Hilton Springfield. Join us!

2015 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge

Be rewarded for serving more kids more meals!

As an extra incentive for schools to expand their breakfast programs, Rise & Shine Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Midwest Dairy Council present the 2015 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge.

How it works:

Eligibility: All Illinois schools currently participating in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and serving an alternative breakfast model (Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N Go or Breakfast After the Bell) are eligible to participate. Schools had to participate in the SBP the previous year although they did not have to serve an alternative breakfast model. Up to 20 schools will be accepted into the Challenge on a first-come first-serve basis. From each district, one elementary, one middle and one high school will be eligible to participate.

Challenge Duration: February – May, 2015

Reward: The Challenge will be based on increases in student breakfast participation compared to the Average Daily Participation (ADP) rate of the previous year for the corresponding month.  For each additional meal served above the previous year’s ADP for that  month, the school will receive $.25. The maximum award amount is $5,000 per school.  The total award will be given to schools in the Fall of 2015.

To Enroll:  Sign up HERE! (click the link and then scroll to the bottom of the page for the enrollment form)

Schools entering the Challenge will receive a marketing starter kit including school breakfast flyers, posters and banners to help increase awareness and participation.

Funds earned can be used toward anything related to your breakfast program (except food), such as additional equipment and supplies, POS systems, outreach materials, staff, etc.

The more meals you serve – the more funds you earn – to help you serve more meals, and feed more hungry children.  It’s a positive feedback loop! Enroll in the Challenge today.  

Illinois Breakfast Week Details Announced

Breakfast-Week-Cover-Pic_V2 (2) 4

Rise & Shine Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education are teaming up to raise awareness about the need for school breakfast among low-income children during Illinois School Breakfast Week – February 23rd – 27th, 2015.

The week’s festivities include a Breakfast Challenge kickoff event the morning of Thursday, February 26th in Decatur and a working lunch convening statewide breakfast partners in Springfield later that day.

How can you get involved?

  • Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
  • Participate in our Breakfast Week Thunderclap!
  • Scroll to the bottom of this page and..
    • “TAKE THE PLEDGE” to support school breakfast and help us exceed our goal of 1,000 pledges by February 27th
    • Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates on Rise & Shine grants, events and other news
  • Fill out our Take Action form to be connected with a School Breakfast Coordinator and receive more information on implementing breakfast in your school

Superintendent announces Rise & Shine Illinois Grant Opportunity

Weekly Message from Superintendent Christopher A. Koch features Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine Illinois Breakfast Grant Opportunity Available to Schools 


FEBRUARY 9, 2015  — “Rise & Shine Illinois is offering grants of up to $5,000 to help schools cover the costs of providing free breakfast to students in need.

Under the School Breakfast Program (SBP), federal reimbursements are available to all public schools for breakfasts served to low-income children yet only 45 percent of eligible students actually receive breakfast.

Participation is often low because breakfast is either served in isolation before the start of the school day or there is a stigma surrounding students needing free or reduced-price meals.

Rise & Shine Illinois works with schools to reduce these barriers to participation by implementing alternative breakfast models such as Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab N Go.

While the cost of food for the SBP is reimbursed, schools need equipment and supplies, such as insulated bags, point-of-service terminals, Grab N Go carts and trash cans to make this program work. Rise & Shine Illinois offers grants to cover these extra expenses.

Rise & Shine Illinois has awarded $200,000 total to schools throughout the state since 2013, helping to increase breakfast participation in some districts by more than 200 percent.

Grants for 2015 are available for up to $5,000 each. The next application deadline is Feb. 15. Contact to apply.”

2015 Breakfast Grant Deadlines Announced

Rise & Shine Illinois 2015 grants are available for up to $5,000 each.  

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with the following deadlines: 

February 15 — April 15 — June 15 — August 15 — October 15

To be connected with a School Breakfast Coordinator and begin the application process, please click here or email  See grant details below:


Grants will support schools with the purchase of approved equipment, materials and initiatives facilitating alternative breakfast delivery models (such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N Go, or Second Chance Breakfast) in an effort to increase child participation in universal School Breakfast.


Applying schools must either be implementing or be prepared to implement an alternative breakfast delivery model. Successful models include collaboration of everyone in the school district; including the School Principal, Teachers, the Food Service Nutrition Director, and the Superintendent. All applications must have authorized approval by the School Principal and Food Service Nutrition Director. (more…)

Taylorville: A shining example of breakfast success

WCIA News 3 Springfield covers the success of Breakfast in the Classroom at Memorial Elementary in Taylorville, Il.  With the help of a Rise & Shine Illinois grant, Memorial was able to implement the model in Fall of 2014.

Teachers were initially leery of the program, fearful of messes in the classroom and rowdiness, but quite the opposite has taken place.  In addition to nearly doubling breakfast participation in this high-need school, Breakfast in the Classroom has helped teachers and students alike – filling students bellies and calming them down before lessons start while allowing teachers to get organized and start the day off quicker with a classroom full of attentive, satisfied students.

Local ad agency announces Rise & Shine campaign

Downtown Partners Chicago launches ad campaign to spotlight student hunger

By Lewis Lazare, Chicago Business Journal

NOVEMBER 20, 2014 — The holidays are one of the most important times of the year for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which has as its goal ensuring that local residents do not have to experience the hardships of going hungry.

The Food Depository recently recruited Downtown Partners Chicago to create an ad campaign and a website that focus attention on one of the Depository’s newest programs to prevent hunger — Rise and Shine Illinois.

Launched earlier this fall, Rise and Shire aims to make free breakfasts widely available in schools for young children who may not be living in a household where they can get that important first meal of the day.

In announcing the new school breakfast program in September, Greater Chicago Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr said: “We believe school breakfast is a critical tool in addressing hunger. Making breakfast available gives children the nutrients and energy they need to thrive in an academic setting.” (more…)

No Kid Hungry “heard” at Illinois State Board budget hearing

Representing the No Kid Hungry campaign, Michelle Knight, from the St. Louis Area Food Bank,  encourages the state board to increase funding for school-based nutrition programs, including the expansion of school breakfast programs and alternative breakfast models.

Final ISBE budget hearing at the Thompson Center this Friday, 11/22 in Chicago.

Illinois State Board hears community input for education budget

November 17, 2014

— The students sporting navy blue jackets with the words Illinois FFA across the back were on a mission Monday afternoon to advocate for funding for agriculture education.

The high school students from Edwardsville, Mascoutah and Highland spoke to representatives of the Illinois State Board of Education during a public hearing for the fiscal year 2016 budget held at Granite City High School.

Ashlyn Gietl, president of the Highland FFA, said she’s greatly benefited from the agriculture education she’s received at Highland High School.

“If we had no agricultural program at my school, I would never have the passion for agriculture that I do now,” she said.

Kevin Eschmann, agriculture instructor at Mascoutah High, said the number of students interested in agriculture education has increased, and funding is a “vital component” of future success of the agriculture programs at area high schools.

He said agriculture classes offer students a “valuable education” as they incorporate several different components including technology, science and English.

Several community members and educators in attendance advocated for additional funding for early childhood education.

Bernadette Schrempp, an assistant state’s attorney in St. Clair County, said helping children develop “critical social and cognitive skills in the first five years of life not only helps them succeed in school, it cuts crime.”

Schrempp, on behalf of St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, urged the state board to continue its commitment to the Early Childhood Block Grant.

Sherri O’Toole, a family coach with Children’s Home and Aid, also spoke in favor of more early childhood funding.

O’Toole said she’s seen firsthand how metro-east families and children, ages 0-3, benefit from early developmental screenings, which can often uncover learning challenges that might not have been discovered until the child started kindergarten.

Illinois State Board of Education member James Baumann, who served as moderator of Monday’s hearing, said early childhood education is important. “We know it makes a difference,” he said.

Tricia Blackard, a teacher at Collinsville Area Vocational Center, encouraged state board members to fund Career and Technology Education programs, which provide students skills area employers are seeking.

“Don’t forget how important CTE is to students, the surrounding community and employers,” she said.

Michelle Knight, an advocacy coordinator for St. Louis Area Food Bank, spoke on behalf of No Kid Hungry Illinois and the need to fund school-based nutrition programs.

“A well-nourished child is better prepared for the school day,” she said.

Knight encouraged the state board to expand the school breakfast program and implement some alternative breakfast models. Currently, she said only 44 percent of children eligible to get free breakfast at schools in Illinois are receiving it.

The purpose of the hearing Monday was to gather public input on what education needs should be a priority as the board prepares its fiscal year 2016 education budget recommendation for the governor and general assembly.

The board’s Finance and Audit Committee hosted four public hearing thus far including the one in Granite City. The fifth and final hearing will be Friday in Chicago.

The public hearing Monday also provided area residents an opportunity to voice their support or opposition to Senate Bill 16, which was introduced in April and aims to change the method of distribution of state funds to the state’s 857 school districts.

According to figures released earlier this year by ISBE, some metro-east school districts will benefit greatly from Senate Bill 16, if approved, while others will lose funding if the school funding formula is altered by the state legislature.

Jim Greenwald, superintendent of Granite City Community Unit School District 9, spoke in favor of the bill. He said it “better directs existing state money in a more equitable manner.”

District 9 has been forced to borrow more than $9 million over the past several years. If the inadequate level of funding continues from the state, Greenwald said the district will be forced to make “drastic cuts in the future.”

Like Greenwald, Victor Buehler, superintendent of Bunker Hill Community Unit District 8, said the proposed legislation would more equitably distribute funds to Illinois school districts.

Brad Skertich, superintendent of Southwestern Community Unit School District 9, also supports Senate Bill 16. “Proration has unfairly targeted proration-dependent districts,” he said.

Instead of funding the per student state aid at 100 percent, Illinois has prorated its general state aid to school districts since 2009.

Skertich said Senate Bill 16 provides a much-needed change to the school funding formula. “The inadequate funding cannot continue. It’s time for the state board to take a stand,” he said. “Our kids deserve better. This is an adult problem, and our kids are suffering.”

Testimony from the budget hearings regarding Senate Bill 16 will be shared with legislators and state board staff. Those who were unable to attend the public hearing are encouraged to email any guidance or feedback to ISBE at

Read more here: