In North Sacramento, California, the Natomas Unified School District has served more than a million meals since the pandemic started–in great part due to USDA-issued COVID-19 waivers that allowed the district the flexibility to serve more meals to more kids. That’s an average of 2,000 students receiving meals every single day, including weekends–a 127% increase from pre-pandemic times. And throughout summer 2021, these numbers will grow, with the district serving three meals, six days a week, to local families at pick-up centers across the area.
Thanks to funding from No Kid Hungry California, NUSD was able to purchase a food truck that delivers farm-fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families with children under age 18–all at no cost.
For Executive Director of Nutrition Services Vince Caguin and his team at NUSD, feeding local families is a passion–one that they’re committed to fulfilling no matter what: “It’s my belief that to play the long game of child nutrition and for it to grow and have an impact, we have to get out of the traditional four walls of our school district and the traditional 6 AM to 3 PM service model. Hunger doesn’t have a timeline, hunger doesn’t stop. It doesn’t take winter breaks, doesn’t take spring break and for us to serve our community, that’s a great opportunity for us.”
Moreover, he recognizes that school and summer meals do more for a community than just making sure kids don’t go hungry–although that’s paramount. Their program also provides jobs for nutrition staff, even providing opportunities for growth and promotion, and supports local farmers and growers. He sees it as a win-win for everyone.
Baltimore Public Schools Keep Innovating to Serve Millions of Kids Across the City
Since the pandemic started, and now as students break for the summer, Elizabeth Marchetta, executive director of food and nutrition services and her team at Baltimore City Public Schools in Baltimore, Maryland, have made it their mission to ensure that local families across the city never have to worry about a lapse in access to food.
Summer Food Service Program
Summer meal programs are a lifeline for millions of children from families with low income who live in underserved and rural communities. Many children who rely on summer and school meals programs struggle with hunger or food insecurity. In 2014 and 2015, 84% of food-insecure households with school-age children accessed free- or reduced-price lunches.
How School Meals Help Families Impacted by the Pandemic
School meals are a lifeline to tens of millions of families across the country. Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discussed new findings about the importance of school meals with Dr. Mary Story, program director of Healthy Eating Research. Learn about new research showing why healthy meals are so important—and opportunities to help schools ensure more families have access to the healthy foods they need.