COVID-related school closures across the United States in spring 2020 disrupted the school meal programs that provide critical access to healthy food for millions of children — including children in elementary and middle school and adolescents in high school — from households with low incomes, leading to increased food insecurity. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responded with innovative policies that allowed states and school districts to implement the Grab-and-Go School Meals (GGSM) and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) programs. Together, these programs ensured children’s access to billions of meals and mitigated the effects of school closures on food insecurity. P-EBT reached more children and provided meals at lower cost. GGSM offered prepared meals and reached people not eligible for P-EBT. Both programs should be continued to assure food access when schools are closed during planned breaks and future crises.
Published: August 2022
Publisher: Healthy Eating Research
Authors: Krieger J, Kenney E, Pinero-Walkinshaw L
Rapid Health Impact Assessment on Changes to School Nutrition Standards to Align with 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for AmericansThe national school breakfast and lunch programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are cornerstone federal nutrition assistance programs. School meals are one of the healthiest sources of foods for school-age children, which is significant as some children receive up to half of their daily calories at school. Policy opportunities in 2023 More