Schools doing their best to keep students fed during COVID-19 shutdown

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

Staff at Olney C. Allen Elementary School in East Aurora School District 131 are offering students the opportunity to pick up lunch (above) and breakfast. This lunch consists of a sandwich, boxed drink and apple sauce. Distribution is available at four district schools each weekday. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, meals are also loaded onto school buses and delivered to kids and families as drivers travel their regular route. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

Instead of transporting students to and from buildings Monday through Friday, East Aurora school drivers are now transporting snacks and sandwiches to students, and they’ve become unlikely heroes during this COVID-19 pandemic.

It is because of them, and hundreds of volunteers working hard throughout the district, that thousands of children are getting a nutritious meal during the statewide shutdown.

Elgin School District U46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said that in the days since school closed, 200,100 meals had been served alongside 66,700 snacks. In a single day, U46 staff can expect to see more than 20,000 meals hit the hands of hungry students, but it’s not done without precaution.

One a recent chilly morning, the drive-thru meal service line at Thompson Junior High School in Oswego was steady. A mask-clad, glove-wearing lady, who you know probably wears a wonderful smile you can no longer see, greeted visitors at the passenger side window.

Keeping her distance, she asked how many students a person was picking up for. After gathering the sack lunches and bagged breakfasts, the volunteer doesn’t touch the car or come near, except to reach her gloved hand inside to place the meals on the seat.

It is women like this volunteer and others who have banded together and brought “grab and go” to a whole new level.

Families that cannot get to one of Oswego Community Unit School District 308’s pick-up locations can now have meals home delivered by volunteers.

It’s taken an army of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, volunteers, staff members and superintendents to make sure that as many children that need food have access.

Here is a list of school districts in the region offering free meal service to students. For more information, visit your district’s website.


East Aurora School District 131:

District 131 has expanded its student meal distribution, using the district’s First Student bus routes. Grab-and-go meals will be distributed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Students can expect the bus to arrive at their regular First Student bus stop approximately two hours after their normal pick up time. For example, if normal pick up time is 7 a.m., you can expect the bus at approximately 9 a.m.
This additional meal distribution will not impact the district’s current school site pickups listed below. These sites are open to all students in the district.

At the five school sites, meals will be available Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon, for students 18 years and under. The school sites are as follows:
Allen Elementary, 700 S. Farnsworth Ave., Aurora; DOOR 8
Dieterich Elementary, 1141 Jackson St., Aurora, DOOR 6
Oak Park Elementary, 1200 Front St., Aurora, DOOR 2
East Aurora High School, 500 Tomcat Lane, Aurora, DOOR 8

Benavides STEAM Academy, 250 E. Indian Trail Road; DOOR 1

Parents and guardians may also pick up student meals on behalf of a student, and siblings may also pick up meals for their siblings.


West Aurora School District 129:

Meal pick up is Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until school starts up again at six locations throughout the district. Families may visit any location that is convenient for them.

West Aurora will be using the “honor system,” meaning that children need not be present for families to receive meals and no school identification is needed.

Additionally, two days’ worth of meals will be provided per child to minimize the number of trips a family will need to make.
To promote social distancing and reduce the risk of spreading the virus, drive-thru service will be available and is strongly recommended. If a family needs to walk to one of our food distribution locations, the district recommends they obey social distancing guidelines and minimize the number of people walking with them.

Families are asked to form a car line nearest to the main door except at Jewel Middle School where the drive-thru will be held at door 30 (west of main entrance) and at West Aurora High School where it will be held at door 14B (nearest to Veteran’s Fieldhouse).


DeKalb School District 428:

All children 18 years and younger are eligible.

“Grab and Go” meals are available to all children ages 18 and younger. Meals can be picked-up Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the following sites:


Huntley Middle School – 1515 S. Fourth St. (Parking Lot near Door 1)
Clinton Rosette Middle School – 650 N. First St. (Parking Lot near Door 1)
Littlejohn Elementary School – 1121 School St. (Parking Lot near Door 1)
University Village – 722 North Annie Glidden Road (By the Basketball Courts)
NIU School of Nursing – 1240 Normal Road (Parking Lot)
Edgebrook Lane Church of Christ – 2315 Edgebrook Lane (Parking Lot)
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church – 1201 Twombly Road (Parking Lot)
Cortland Fire Department, 30 W. North St. (Parking Lot)
Malta Historical Society – 127 N. Third St. Parking Lot across the street)
Barb Food Mart
Barb Food Mart will be open for drive-thru pickups on Thursdays as normal. Families need to place online orders. Their link will open Wednesday morning. For Barb Food Mart, questions please call 815-596-0141. A limited supply of pre-packaged Barb Food Mart items are available at each “Grab and Go” free meal site.

East Aurora School District 131 is also offering breakfasts for pickup by students. The package consists of cereal, juice, a cookie as well as a container of cold milk. Meals were being distributed on weekdays at four schools, plus deliveries three days a week along regular school bus routes. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

Elgin U-46: 

School District U-46, through its Food and Nutrition Department and school administrators, are continuing to make daily pre-packaged meals available for pick up at 26 schools across the district.
The meal distribution runs from 10-11:30 a.m. for families to pick-up bags that include free packaged meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack) for all children under 18. No paperwork needed, no questions asked. Distribution will continue until school resumes.

For a list of sites and more information, visit on the District’s COVID-19 subsite.

Stop by for pre-packaged meals and a snack on these currently posted dates:
Monday, March 30, Two days of meals served
Wednesday, April 1, Two days of meals served
Friday, April 3

Indian Prairie School District 204:

Organic Life is offering curbside pick-up of grab and go breakfast and lunch at no cost for all District 204 students. Pick-up locations are at each elementary school near Door 1, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Families that require a meal can pick up a free grab and go bag with breakfast and lunch each morning at the elementary school in their neighborhood.

For planning purposes, let the district know how many days you will be picking up a meal by completing this form:


Oswego CUSD 308:

A free bag lunch is available to all SD 308 students via pick-up or home delivery until school resumes.

Pick-up is Monday-Friday from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Pick-up at:
– Oswego East High School, 1525 S. Harvey Road
– Thompson Junior High School, Boulder Hill Pass
– Lakewood Creek Elementary School, 2301 Lakewood Creek Drive
– Fox Chase Elementary School, 260 Fox Chase Drive N
A parent may designate an alternate person to pick-up a student’s meal. Include a note from parent that states the student(s) name, school(s), grade(s), and home address to show to volunteers.

Those who are not able to pick up the meals, volunteers will pick up for you and deliver to your residence. Volunteers are organizing routes based on the junior high your children will/have attended so residency information needs to be provided in order to be added to the correct route.
Meals will be delivered to you every weekday until school resumes or you notify the district otherwise.


Plano School District 88:
Plano School District 88 schools are continuing to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students 18 and under, Monday-Friday, from 11:30 a.m.- noon at Plano Middle School and Emily G. Johns School.
The district also announced that the Fox Valley YMCA on Route 34 and Eldamain Road has begun serving drive-thru dinners from 3-4 p.m. for all students 18 and under.
Email the Plano School District at if you need more information about meal opportunities.

Yorkville CUSD 115:
Grab-and-go meals will be distributed to qualifying families on Mondays and Wednesdays ( March 30; and April 1 and 6) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Yorkville High School.