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
Schools play a vital role in promoting children’s health and well-being. In the United States, schools contribute significantly to children’s overall diet quality and can provide up to half of their daily calories, especially among children from low-income families. Providing healthy school meals for all is a policy opportunity to … More
SNAP Waivers and Adaptations During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Survey of State Agency Perspectives in 2020
This research seeks to understand perspectives from state SNAP administrators on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from waivers and flexibilities used to preserve equitable access to SNAP during the COVID-19 pandemic. This report synthesizes results from an online survey of state SNAP administrators conducted between December 14, 2020, and … More
Strengthening the Impact of USDA’s Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Programs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
To address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilization of the USDA child nutrition summer feeding programs has drastically increased. Given the unprecedented use of the summer feeding programs, this research brief will (1) explain the meal pattern requirements and select operational differences between the summer feeding programs and the … More