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September 21, 1999

Governor Ryan Announce Full Funding Of School Lunch Program

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan announced today that for the first time in more than 50 years, the State would fully-fund the School Free Lunch Program providing breakfast and lunch for the 1999-2000 school year. September 19-25 is Illinois School Breakfast Week.

"We can't expect our children to learn when they're hungry," Ryan said. "I am pleased that we were able to find the money to fully-fund this important program, to give kids the chance to have healthy, balanced meals at both breakfast and lunch."

Created in 1945, the School Free Lunch Program has not been fully-funded. This year, the General Assembly approved a $2.2 million increase in the program budget for FY00 (12.6 percent) to a total funding level of $19.5 million. The program provides schools with a 15-cent reimbursement for meals, including breakfast and lunch, in addition to the amount schools receive from the federal School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. Without the15-cent supplement, some school districts are unable to provide the meal program.

Recent studies in the Journal Pediatrics and the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reported a clear association between eating a school breakfast and improved academic performance.

Studies have also linked hunger in school children to other problems, including absence, tardiness, hyperactivity, and antisocial behavior. In Illinois, groups such as the Illinois Hunger Coalition have been educating elected officials and the public about the benefits of this program for years.

"Giving students the chance to have a wholesome breakfast or lunch not only makes them better students, it can make our schools better places to learn," Ryan said.


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