SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD)– The Illinois General Assembly has passed the “Healthy School Meals for All Program,” guaranteeing free, healthy breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students in Illinois who need and want one.

Sponsored by Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford), HB2471 was passed after a federal program for free school meals for the COVID-19 pandemic expired in June 2022, putting children at risk of going hungry at school.

“Every single child deserves access to free, healthy school meals,” said Chief House Sponsor State
Rep. Maurice West. “This legislation will not only improve students’ health and growth, it will also
support their development, academic achievement, and mental health. Plus, this legislation helps
remove the stigma for children suffering from food insecurity while reducing the burden on families who need the most support. I want to thank the dedicated advocates who helped pass this bill through the House and Senate, and I urge Gov. Pritzker to sign it into law.”

School districts who provide free meals can apply for reimbursement from the state.

The bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 88 to 24 and the Illinois Senate by a vote of 52 to 1. The legislation goes to Gov. JB Pritzker for his signature.