Five times as many ‘Meals to You,’ says USDA

The “Meals to You” program, launched in March in Texas to deliver meals to rural low-income children whose schools were closed due to the coronavirus, soon will be delivering 5 million meals a week, five times the original goal, said the USDA. The program now operates in 12 states and 23 more plus Puerto Rico want to join.

“This program has been so successful and faced such high demand that we are expanding to five million meals a week,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The USDA provides funding for the project, which involves the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, PepsiCo and McLane Global, a transportation company.

“Meals to You” is targeted at rural children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school. It delivers boxes containing 20 meals — 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches — to replace the meals lost when schools closed. Perdue said the project combines “private sector ingenuity with public sector backing.”

The USDA also said it approved proposals by Maine, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Vermont to operate so-called P-EBT programs to help low-income families buy food for school-age children who lost access to free or reduced-price meals when schools closed due to the coronavirus. Sixteen other states are setting up their Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer programs.

And the USDA said Nevada would join states that allow SNAP recipients to buy groceries online. The starting date for purchases will be announced later. Online purchasing is operational in six states. Twelve other states, including Nevada, and the District of Columbia have USDA clearance for the sales.