Immediate Release
April 30, 2007

Illinois State Board of Education, Feed The Children, Regional Offices of Education team up to provide school supplies to rural Illinois homeless students

3,200 backpacks distributed in West Central & Northwestern Illinois

Springfield, Ill. –The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today it is working with Regional Offices of Education and Feed The Children, an international non-profit relief organization, to provide school supplies and food to homeless children in two rural areas of Illinois. Today's shipments were sent to Macomb and Dixon, Illinois, where they will be distributed locally to homeless children by area liaisons.

"The State Board has made it very clear that the education of our homeless children is a priority, and we must recognize and make others aware, that there is no typical homeless person," said State Superintendent Christopher Koch. "I want to thank our Regional Offices of Education and Feed The Children for working with us to provide supplies, but more importantly to raise awareness."

Today, 3,200 backpacks filled with school supplies and non-perishable food items were delivered in Macomb and Dixon Illinois, where volunteers and students assisted in unloading the semis. The Illinois State Board of Education oversees Illinois' McKinney/Vento Homeless Education efforts, which are administered regionally by the Hancock/McDonough and Lee/Ogle Regional Offices of Education.

"We are grateful to participate in this partnership with ISBE to make sure that every child has the basic necessities to succeed in school," said Larry Jones, president and co-founder of Feed The Children. "As we all know, education is a key in the fight against poverty."

The Hancock/McDonough and Lee/Ogle Regional Offices of Education were chosen to receive the shipments based on the number of homeless children in their counties. In the 20 county region served by the Hancock/McDonough Regional Office of Education 1,150 students have been identified as being homeless, in the 17 counties served by the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education 1,800 students have been identified as homeless.

"I am grateful that Feed The Children and the Illinois State Board of Education have the capability to make available such resources as we have today that allow us to distribute supplies through the 20 counties in West Central Illinois we serve," said Gary Eddington, Regional Superintendent for Hancock/McDonough counties.

Regional Superintendent Amy Jo Clemens added: "We know that homeless children face many obstacles in trying to continue their education, but we also know that continuing their education is the ticket out of poverty. In the past three years we have learned that these obstacles can be overcome when communities, agencies and schools work together. Our homeless students will benefit greatly from the generosity of Feed The Children."

The Illinois State Board of Education has made training school personnel in compassionately identifying students as homeless a priority. Data collected by local school districts in 2006 indicated approximately 18,000 students in Illinois schools were homeless. However, based upon the most current research methodology, and the 750,000 students who receive free or reduced price lunches, it is estimated that the number is more likely 60,000.