Thousands of families now have to find other ways to get food for their children after the Chicago Public Schools suspended their food distribution program “based on the nature of activities that are developing throughout the city,” officials announced late Sunday night.
The district, which is the third largest country in the country, has provided more than 12.5 million meals since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through a food program that has been widely praised by parents who rely on schools as their main food source. Of the 355,000 CPS students, 271,000 are from low-income families and around 17,000 are homeless.
The decision to postpone the program was a sudden change from a letter sent to parents by CPS CEO Janice Jackson, who said the district would continue to provide free food for all students.
Shortly before 10:30, the district posted on its social media accounts that “based on the nature of the activities that are developing throughout the city, we are suspending take-and-go places to eat and all other school and administrative office activities tomorrow.” CPS said staff will work from home and distance learning will continue Monday.
In a letter to the family, the district said the decision was made “in recognition of the potential challenges that families and staff can face when trying to reach school and office buildings tomorrow.” CPS said it would monitor the situation and provide updates on food distribution Tuesday.
The Chicago Teachers Union criticized this move in a late-night tweet.
“CPS has forced children who live in very uncomfortable and traumatized areas to become distance learning tomorrow. Now it is cutting off their access to food, “the union wrote.
CTU Vice-President Stacy Davis Gates, who was contacted after the announcement, only said that he was “speechless.”
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rose (35), a frequent critic of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and member of the progressive City Council caucus, tweeted: “Who made this decision? Our family relies on this food. Food distribution on Nixon Elementary in 60639 (one of the ZIP codes that hardest hit by COVID-19) running out of food every day. What’s the reason here? “
Chicago has been the site of many peaceful protests in recent days against police brutality, systemic oppression and murder by Minneapolis police from George Floyd.
Aside from these meetings, widespread looting, vandalism and destruction have engulfed businesses throughout the city, including many grocery and convenience stores on the South, Southwest and West sides, which are alternative places families should try to get food.
Jackson’s letter on the previous Sunday largely discussed the issue of racism in the United States and his concerns “as the mother of a black boy who worries him, and millions of other black boys in our country.”
“I worry that when he leaves our house to ride a bicycle with his friends, he will come back to me as a headline, hashtag, appeal – Ahmaud, Breonna, George,” Jackson wrote.
“We have to admit that too many of us accept fear and pain as part of normal life. Fear should not be the first thing we feel in the morning and the last thing we feel at night but that is for many people in the African-American community. If we want to advance as a society, this moment must direct us to confront racism – in all its forms – every day. “
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