Around 30 million American children rely on free or reduced-price meals. A new study shows that among the children who qualify for these meals, only 15% are receiving them. Due to the pandemic, most schools have only been able to feed a small portion of their qualifying students. In fact, even in districts where over 70% of students qualify, the rate of which these students are receiving them is down 90%.
Since schools shut down in March, these 30 million children have struggled not to starve. Most schools had a system in place where parents and caregivers could pick up free or low-cost meals weekly, if not daily. Typically, each qualifying student would be provided with daily breakfast and lunch. However, as most families who qualify for these lunches are also essentials workers, picking up these meals becomes a challenge.
Cory Turner, NPR’s Education Correspondent, talked to various educators about this issue. Teachers and administrators stand united in taking this matter into their own hands. They worry for their students health during this time. A teacher in Arizona has been bringing meals to various bus stops in her district to assure that these kids eat. This is not uncommon across the country. Many teachers have been loading up school buses with meals and hand-delivering them to their students. Additionally, many educators are trying to find more ways to feed their students.
While educators have been trying their best, meal programs are losing funds quickly. Some programs are even at risk of shutting down or laying off staff. It is worth noting that the federal government did step in the spring with Pandemic EBT. This program consolidated the value of the meals that children were not receiving. These funds were put onto a debit card and distributed to qualifying families to use at grocery stores. This ultimately saved around three million children from starvation over the summer. However, these congressional funds have expired in two thirds of the states as of Labor Day. It is unlikely that Congress renews it, at least anytime soon.
To help students in need of food, check out a list of organizations you can donate to here.
Do you have any more ideas on how we can help schools struggling to feed students during the pandemic? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.