As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues across the United States, more school districts are closing – and that means children who normally eat free or reduced-price meals at school no longer have access to that healthy food. And that’s a lot of kids: 22 million children qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
No child should go hungry – now or ever – and the Feeding America network of food banks are responding every day in a number of different ways to help fill the gap. We’re working to ensure children have meals during this unprecedented situation, and their parents who must now stay home to take care of them have enough food as well.
Three ways food banks are feeding kids and their families during the pandemic:
- Drive-thru food distributions at schools. To feed children and their families while school is out, and to keep everyone safe and maximize “social distancing,” food banks are working with school districts to implement drive-thru food distributions at schools that are closed. In many cases, these distributions include an emergency food box. Some food banks are distributing fresh produce and meat to families as well.
- Preparing and distributing to-go meals to kids and families. Many food banks operate BackPack programs that offer food and pre-made meals to kids on weekends. With schools closed, those programs are shifting their model to offer cold meals to-go for kids and their families. Some food banks are also using food trucks to get those meals to kids in need.
- Activating summer and after-school sites to serve meals. When school is out for the summer, many children receive free meals at summer food sites in their community. To meet increased need right now, many food banks have worked with their partners to open summer meal sites immediately to feed kids who are missing meals. Food banks are also ensuring that existing after-school meal sites have the support they need and are equipped to handle the demand for more meals.
How can I help?
- Find your local food bank and follow them on social media to learn how they are responding to the pandemic in your community. Food banks often share what help they need as well, whether that be funds or volunteers.
- Learn more about how Feeding America is responding and what you should do if you have plans to volunteer at a food bank.
- Support the efforts of food banks across the country as we feed children and families in need by donating to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund.