In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities to apply approaches from the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option during school closures. Without question, all schools are grappling with logistical and financial challenges. However, urban districts, which serve more low income, English language learner, and/or Black and Latinx students and have lower per pupil funding relative to suburban districts, face unique challenges that could exacerbate health inequities. The goal of this mixed-methods research is to identity financial and operational issues facing urban school food infrastructure during COVID-19 as well as expected challenges and future solutions. This project focuses on the nation’s 12 largest school US districts, represented by the Urban School Food Alliance: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, DeKalb County, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Philadelphia. The specific aims are to: 1) calculate additional new costs associated with the switch from regular meal service to summer meals for food and implementation; and 2) understand school district administrator perspectives on the implementation challenges associated with reopening and how these new feeding approaches will impact schools’ financial health and organizational structure.
Urban School Food Infrastructure: Current Issues, Challenges, and Solutions
Strong nutrition standards for school meals, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, position children for optimal health and wellbeing. Strong science supports the link between lowering sodium intake and better health. This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake … More
Food insecurity among households with children under 18 has increased dramatically during the COVID pandemic; from 15% in 2018 to 28% in June 2020. Governments and school districts have rapidly adopted policies to help children facing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. Two leading policies include the Pandemic-Electronic … More
Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through State Waiver Flexibilities: Perspectives from the National Network of State SNAP Directors
The rapid rise in food insecurity among households with children during COVID-19 has reinforced the critical role SNAP plays in reducing food insecurity and poverty, particularly in low-income communities of color. Waivers and other state program modifications enacted during the pandemic could improve access to SNAP and reduce income and … More