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
The USDA Online Purchasing Pilot, which allows SNAP participants to shop and pay for groceries online, rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to March 2021, the number of participating states increased from 5 to 47. This brief assesses whether the Pilot promotes healthy food access (using the … More
Acceptability, Preference, and No-Show Rates for In-Person and Phone-Based Consultations at Nine WIC Centers in New York City Before and During COVID-19
Access to WIC benefits typically requires an in-person visit to a WIC center, however this became a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic due to recommendations for social distancing to minimize and prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, in-person requirements were removed for all visits, except first time … More
Improving Access to Free School Meals: Addressing Intersections Between Universal Free School Meal Approaches and Educational Funding
Free and reduced price meal application data are used to allocate billions of dollars annually in education funding. However, schools serving universal free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision meal service option or USDA’s COVID-19 waivers do not typically collect school meal applications. The loss of this data has caused … More