Schools May Be Closed, but Hunger Persists
Last year, 9,000 kids in Marin and 30,300 kids in San Francisco received free or reduced-price meals every day at school. When their schools shuttered last month to combat the spread of COVID–19, families were left wondering how they would be able to feed their children while they were at home.
Child Nutrition Advocates Push for Policies to Feed Our Kids
In response, we advocated for policymakers at all levels of government to act quickly to ensure that children would not suffer from hunger during this public health crisis.
Here are three of the advocacy wins that are helping children continue to access the food they need to grow and thrive, even during these challenging times:
- Children of all ages can access grab-and-go school meals during COVID-related school closures. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act allowed the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) flexibility in cutting through some of the administrative red tape that typically governs child nutrition programs. Now, schools and other participating sites can provide grab-and-go meals and home-delivered meals to eligible children while their schools are closed. In San Francisco, the Food Bank is also working with the Unified School District to locating our Pop-Up Pantries at school sites that serve free to-go school meals. The “CA Meals for Kids” mobile app is available to help families find participating sites. Read more about our emergency pop-ups here.
- Low-income families will receive money to buy food through Pandemic EBT. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also established a new program called Pandemic EBT, which will offer a quick and easy way to get food to school-age students by providing funds on a credit-like card for children who are eligible to receive free and reduced-price school lunch. The California Department of Social Services is working with the California Department of Education to efficiently deliver benefits to all families who qualify without anyone having to submit an application.
- Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) Program gets a boost. WIC is a federal nutrition program helping pregnant people, new mothers, and their children access vital nutrition in their formative years. The Families First Act provides $500 million in additional WIC funds to ensure that the program can serve more people as the economic downturn worsens, and also loosens regulatory requirements during the pandemic. California was granted flexibility in reducing the administrative and regulatory burdens typically placed on WIC recipients, including temporarily halting in-person meeting requirements and blood tests, as well as expanding the foods that families can buy with their WIC card.