For many students, school shutdowns took away their lunch and for some, their breakfast too. While restaurants have begun to reopen in phases in various states, the pandemic is not over and many children will be in need of meals throughout the summer.
When school is in session, the National School Lunch Program provides free or reduced-price meals to nearly 30 million kids every day, and the School Breakfast Program services about 14.6 million kids daily. Some school districts, though, have still been able to provide meals to children during the shutdown by offering to-go meals at pick up stations.
A recent survey by the National School Association that polled responses from nutrition professionals from more than 1,890 school districts nationwide found that 43 percent of those districts are currently offering meals five days a week. Fortunately, many of these districts, if not all, will also continue to do the same throughout the summer. Although this isn’t the case all over the U.S.
According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, there are roughly 13,598 regular school districts in the entire country. There are still many districts that may not have the funding to offer lunches either via feeding sites or pickup stations this summer, which is why it’s all the more important for those who are able to lend a helping hand.
So how can you help ensure kids have enough to eat this summer? Here are easy ways you can get involved.
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Make a donation to Feeding America online
One organization is Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S. They launched the COVID-19 Response Fund at the beginning of the pandemic in March and the $120 million emergency fund helped food banks all across the country keep their most vulnerable community members fed. However, as unemployment rates reached an all-time high this spring, and with jobless claims currently surpassing 40 million, more children will be at risk of facing hunger. In other words, more funding is needed to keep kids fed. You can donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund online, which will go directly to food banks all across the country in need of additional resources.
Make a donation to your local food bank
By donating to your local food bank directly you can help children who lack access to nutritious food in your community right away. This option allows you to make the quickest impact on kids in your community.
Another option is to donate to No Kid Hungry, which gives emergency funds to programs designed to help keep kids fed during the pandemic. So far the organization has sent more than $15 million to 569 schools and community groups across all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
Get involved with No Kid Hungry
Through No Kid Hungry, you can make monthly or one time donations to children in need of food. You can also email Congress and advocate for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be included in the next relief package so that those who rely on those benefits can better support their families. At the very least, you could share the Free Meals Finder map on Facebook to help people in (and out of) your community know where you can get meals for kids for no cost at all.
There are a lot of ways you can help support children in need this summer and throughout the remainder of the year. And be sure to check out The Single Biggest Change You’ll See in School Cafeterias to better understand how lunchtime will look in the fall for young students.
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