FILE - Illinois school lunch

Students eat the food served in the cafeteria during lunch at Washington Middle School in Springfield, Illinois in 2008.

The state of Illinois is reminding parents that they may qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. 

The latest income guidelines for free or reduced-price lunches in Illinois are up a bit from last year.

A family of four that makes $33,475 can get free school breakfasts and lunches. A family of four that makes $47,638 can get a break on the price. 

Some parents may not realize that they qualify for the program, Illinois State Board of Education Principal Consultant Tim Murphy said.

"The most important thing for families to know is that they can apply at the beginning of the school year. They can apply at any time during the school year," he said. "They should get those applications from their schools."

Murphy said any family that qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches should apply. 

"Nutrition is such an important part of the school day," Murphy said. "Some families rely on these free and reduced meals to help them out. And to be able to go to the classrooms and be ready for the day. That lunch is so important."  

Just under half of the 2 million students in the state qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. That number is down from a high in 2015. 

Staff Writer

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.