Food For Thought


By Barbara Axelson

It’s one thing to raise test scores to meet NCLB requirements, but another thing to take care of your students’ basic needs. In Chicago Public Schools (CPS), students were coming to school on Monday mornings hungry and not necessarily ready to learn.

“Teachers comment that kids haven’t eaten over the weekend,” says Lesley Marcus, Children’s Program Manager, Greater Chicago Food Depository. To remedy it, CPS and the Greater Chicago Food Depository coordinated a program called Nourish for Knowledge to give Chicago elementary students much needed nutrition over the weekends.

The joint effort targets 16 CPS schools in low-income neighborhoods. Every Friday following their after-school program, students receive a plastic shopping bag full of 17 nutritious food items, including granola bars, sunflower seeds, fruit bars, shelf-stable milk, and other easy-to-open and child-friendly foods.

Families applaud the program and receive additional support in the form of informational flyers included in the food bags.
This school year, CPS plans to include 3,000 children in the program and hopes to add three to six schools per year. Lead funding for the program comes from three of the McCormick Tribune Foundation’s Communities Programs: Chicago Tribune Charities, Bears Care, and Cubs Care.