Bagged meals from school staff & volunteers aim to keep kids fed amidst school closures

Millions of students in the United States rely on school lunches, more than 20 million of which are distributed for free each day, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The school lunch program is the second-biggest anti-hunger initiative in the country, after SNAP, or food stamps. And while nearly all states have now enacted or announced school closures, volunteers and school staff have been working hard to make sure kids don’t go hungry. 

Some school districts are using an adapted version of the programs that they use to provide children with food using the summers. Such programs include grab-and-go meals, that are handed out at school sites. The bagged meals include lunch and typically include a small breakfast for the following morning. Thus far, New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C are areas that have recently deployed this grab-and-go model.

While the distribution of bagged meals at pick up sites has been praised by many, concerns have also been raised about children who won't have the ability to reach the pickup sites. As a response some districts, including Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia and Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indiana, have adopted a model of using buses to deliver meals. By putting the lunches on school busses and making stops along the regular school bus routes, the lunches may reach children who otherwise could not get to them; for example children who are cared for by grandparents, or whose parents work in “essential” jobs with no option to work from home or drive to schools to pick up the meals during distribution times. 

One of the newly approved aid packages by the federal governments includes a provision that would automatically add money equal to the value of school meals, to the SNAP EBT cards of families who are already enrolled in the SNAP or food stamps program.