At Risk for Hunger

“Securing Comfort in a Crisis,” in School Nutrition’s June/July 2020 issue, offers insights into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures on some of the most vulnerable children, especially students with physical, mental and emotional challenges, as well as kids in foster care and those at risk of domestic violence. Children living with food insecurity were also at risk during school closures—but school nutrition teams took an active role in addressing their needs.

This is the frontline for SN readers, and author Shannon Goff commends all those in foodservice for their heroic efforts in this time of crisis. “You have all worked tirelessly to keep your students and communities fed, whether that means manning meal pick-up sites, creating designated drop-off locations around your town, trading spring break to serving students, or teaming up with teachers and other school staff to board the bus and reach hungry kids district-wide—your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed.”

As the June/July issue went to press, some school districts were suspending meal service until the start of the new school year, while others were launching new, existing or expanded summer meals programs. Food insecurity is certain to have an ongoing impact in many communities across the United States in the weeks and months ahead.

Job losses, business shutdowns and school closures have had a startling impact on the state of food insecurity in America. According to USDA, some 11% of Americans (37 million people, more than 11 million of them children) were facing food insecurity before the pandemic, with 56% of food-insecure households participating in assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

In late April, Feeding America release The Impact of the Coronavirus on Child Food Insecurity, which estimated that rises in unemployment could lead to some 18 million children living with hunger. A Brookings Institute analysis of national survey data finds that a whopping 34.5% of households with a child aged 18 or under were food insecure in late April.

School nutrition professionals who want to do more for the hungry children of their communities can turn to a variety of resources to stay informed and active.

  • SNA Member Resources: Coronavirus Disease
    Find policy updates, national mandates, federal and state agency guidance, SNA webinars, and SNA industry partner and allied partner resources.

SchoolNutrition.org/Covid19

  • No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices
    Browse a bevy of helpful articles around school closures and emerging strategies for meal service, including a “Summary of Current COVID-19 Child Nutrition Program Response Nationwide Waivers.”

Bestpractices.nokidhungry.org

  • Feeding America
    Share this site within your community or through social media channels to spread awareness of their “Find a Food Bank” tool and promote opportunities to contribute to local food banks.

Feedingamerica.org

  • Foodservice Success Stories
    “3 Cheers for School Lunch Heroes! Cafeteria Workers, Drivers and Volunteers Pack, Bag and Deliver Healthy Meals to Students Learning at Home”
    The74million.org

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