Like many school districts in Illinois, Waukegan District 60 was concerned that its students could suffer from food insecurity because of the pandemic. Packaged meal kits are great, but not if kids can’t get to them. With transportation issues and parents’ work schedules, the district near the northern Illinois border could have struggled getting food into the bellies of kids. Even more worrying, over 500 families in the district face housing insecurity, presenting bigger barriers to meal access.
Unsurprisingly, Waukegan District 60 jumped into action and challenged themselves to think broadly about how to keep their children safe and healthy in uncertain times. “We saw a need and we tackled that need,” said Alicia Williams, the district’s coordinator of child nutrition. Williams and her team use local buses to deliver meals to students at 116 bus stops throughout the week. The district also implemented a drive-through service for families to pick up packaged food available twice a week in both mornings and afternoons, to cater to parents with different working schedules.
Perhaps most impressive, Williams partnered with the district’s Outreach Homeless Department to feed Waukegan’s homeless and housing insecure families. As a team, the Outreach Homeless Department and school nutrition services have delivered packaged meals to families as far as Milwaukee, Wisconsin! This combined effort is testament to Waukegan SD’s commitment to keeping their students fed and thinking creatively on how to do so.
Thanks to funds from No Kid Hungry, Waukegan’s remote meal services have greater capacity to serve students and provide meals throughout the week. But all the thanks really go to the outstanding team at Waukegan, directed by their dedicated leader, Alicia Williams. Way to go!