Everybody loves a snow day—unless you come from a low-income background and qualify to receive free breakfast and lunch at school.
According to the USDA, almost 20 million students nationwide eat free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch at school every day. So what happens to those kids when school is closed due to a Snowpocalypse? For far too many, it means being hungry.
During this week's blizzard, Chicago got 20.2 inches of snow—making it the third largest snowstorm in city history. But even though Chicago Public Schools closed for snow days for the first time in 12 years, many school buildings remained open in case hungry students showed up looking for a meal. Even with impassable roads and temperatures below zero, the need in Chicago is real. Of the district's 409,000 students, 86 percent come from low-income backgrounds and qualify to receive free meals.
Chicago is not alone in seeing the need to make sure students are fed despite the weather. Last year when three feet of snow hit Montgomery County, Maryland, and closed campuses for several days, the district worked with a local food bank and set up outside distribution centers.
Unfortunately, given how hard it is to get around in Chicago right now, not many students took advantage of the free food at school, meaning the number of students not reached, and thus not getting adequate nutrition, is surely too high.