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If you create it, will they come?

Princeton program canceled for lack of participation

PRINCETON — Less than a month into it, the Illinois Coalition for Community Services (ICCS) has cancelled its free summer lunch program in Princeton for area children and teens.

On Tuesday, ICCS community organizer Jillian Severinski confirmed the closing of the Princeton program due to a lack of participation. Even though the lunch program has closed, that doesn’t mean the problem of hunger doesn’t exist in Princeton, she said.

“I know child hunger still exists in the summer, and that this meal could be a great asset to parents and the wider Princeton community. Unfortunately, it was not economically feasible to continue the program while the average feeding did not exceed four children per day,” Severinski said.

The ICCS had partnered with the Tri-County Opportunities County, Princeton School District and the First United Methodist Church in providing the free lunch program in Princeton.

The Princeton program was one of three programs started this summer in Bureau County by the ICCS and its community partners. The other programs in DePue and Spring Valley are doing well, Severinski said.

“The DePue and Spring Valley programs have been thriving. We are feeding an average of 48 students per day, per site,” she said. “We hope the program continues to be utilized throughout the summer.”

More community members are encouraged to help volunteer at the DePue and Spring Valley lunch programs and also to encourage children to attend, Severinski said.

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the DePue program is running from June 3 through July 18, Monday through Friday, at the DePue Unit School. The Spring Valley program is running from June 13 through Aug. 15, Monday through Friday, at Spring Valley City Hall. Lunches are served noon to 1 p.m. at both sites.

Severinski said the free lunch program is open to all children, toddlers through 17 years old, and is not based on family income. In order to qualify for the federally-funded program, a community must have at least one school in the community which has more than 50 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced school lunch program.

In DePue, the ICCS is partnering with the school district for the summer lunch program. In Spring Valley, the ICCS is partnering with the city and Project Success.

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