USDA’s Response to Coronavirus is Not Enough to Protect Children from Food Insecurity

Statement from Urban School Food Alliance Executive Director Katie Wilson

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2020 – Millions of students rely on school meals each day. As school closures and enforced containments, due to the Coronavirus, continue, access to food may be compromised. Although the USDA has started to create opportunities for for some students to have access to food – it is not enough. ALL children, regardless of income, need access to nutritious food during this unprecedented pandemic.

  • Current flexibility on regulations does not go far enough. Currently, the USDA has proposed providing waivers for congregate feeding and to use the Summer Food Service Program model that provides meals only in communities of at least 50% free and reduced eligible students. That proposal is inadequate and will not serve all students in need. Students that do not live in these communities still need food. And, students not currently eligible for free meals may quickly become needy due to the loss of family income when residing in enforced containment areas.
  • Immediate access for students to our nation’s food supply should be paramount. The Urban Food Alliance is calling for nutrition program eligibility rules to be suspended and/or broadened. This will ensure access to food in all impacted communities and enable local decision-making for food distribution, without being hampered by applying for waivers and other regulatory constraints.

The Urban School Food Alliance consists of 12 of the nation’s largest school districts, that represent 3,600,000 students, serving 635,000,000 meals annually. School districts include: New York City Public Schools; Dallas Independent School District; Baltimore City Public Schools; , Chicago Public Schools; Orange County Public Schools (Fla.); Boston Public Schools; Los Angeles Unified School District; Broward County Schools (Fla.), Palm Beach County (Fla.), Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Fla.), The School District of Philadelphia, DeKalb County School District (Ga.).

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