Today I’m sharing some recent news items about feeding kids during the COVID crisis:
Door Dash Reaches NYC’s Medically Fragile Children
New York City has been doing an admirable job of feeding children while its schools are closed, with over 450 distribution centers now providing grab-n-go meals. Last week alone, about half a million such meals were reportedly distributed across all five boroughs.
But what about the estimated 800 New York City children who are considered “medically fragile”—that is, those with compromised immune systems, impaired mobility, or other disabilities?
In an innovative program, the NYC Department of Education recently announced that it’s partnering with Door Dash, the restaurant delivery service, to bring meals directly to these students. So far, about 120 qualifying children have opted into the program, and the department anticipates that Door Dash will deliver between 500 and 750 meals daily to these children through April 20th.
Reaching Rural Children
Children who live in remote, rural areas are also especially vulnerable in this crisis, as they may be unable to travel daily to local food distribution centers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it’s partnering with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, the food/logistics company McLane Global, and PepsiCo to deliver nearly a million meal boxes per week to students in rural areas affected by COVID. The boxes contain five days worth of shelf-stable, individually packaged foods that meet USDA’s summer food requirements.
The agency admits, however, that even a million weekly boxes can’t reach all rural children in need. It says in its press release that “additional vendors are requested and encouraged to ensure we can provide food to more rural children as additional schools close. USDA has created a single contact for those who have suggestions, ideas, or want to help feed kids across the country. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Houston ISD Suspends Curbside Feeding Program
I was dismayed to learn this morning that my own district, Houston ISD, has indefinitely suspended its curbside meal distribution after a volunteer went into self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus. The curbside program had been a lifeline for tens of thousands of Houstonians, according to the Houston Chronicle, which reports that “in the first five days of distributing food at HISD schools, districts officials reported serving 22,862 households with about 685,860 pounds of food.”
I’ll provide any updates here.
School Meals and School Closures on the “Food Talk” podcast
The CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation, Mara Fleishman, recently spoke with Food Tank‘s Dani Nierenberg about the critical importance of school meals during this crisis. You can listen to their conversation here.
Follow the School Meals Rock Twitter feed for inspiring photos and reports of all the heroic efforts going on around the country to feed hungry kids. Here’s a sample:
Stay safe, everyone. More soon.