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Program offers free summer meals, snacks to Illinois youth

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Children across Illinois will have access to free, healthy meals and snacks this summer even though they're not in school.

The Illinois State Board of Education and the U.S. Agriculture Department are partnering with local organizations on the Summer Food Service Program.

Food is available to youth age 18 and younger who meet income eligibility guidelines. Last year, Illinois sponsored more than 1,900 sites statewide.

Illinois Superintendent of Education Tony Smith says the program helps kids stay "ready to learn."

Officials say last summer only 11 of every 100 children who get a meal at school during the academic year received a summer meal through the program.

Families can find the nearest site by visiting the website , texting "Food IL" to 877-877 or calling 800-359-2163.

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