When the government made school meals temporarily free to virtually all public school students in 2020, the intent was to buffer children and families from the spike in hunger and economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also inadvertently turned out to be a pilot project for something anti-hunger groups had been pushing for years: making school food free, permanently, for all public school students, regardless of income. (No paywall)
Nearly a year into the pandemic, school closures have taken a harsh toll on American kids. Virtual classes have left many behind academically, and losing access to school meals has increased child hunger across the country, as replacement programs have failed to meet rising need. As children return to the classroom, school breakfasts will be critical in both curbing hunger and improving academic outcomes, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) annual Breakfast Scorecard, which was released today.
A study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity "suggests that living in a food swamp — a neighborhood where fast food and junk food outlets outnumber healthy alternatives — is a stronger predictor of high obesity rates" than so-called food deserts with limited access to nutritious food, says ScienceBlog.
The school breakfast program, an adjunct to the longer-established school lunch and school milk programs, is reaching a growing number of low-income children — 12.1 million daily during the 2015-16 school year — says a report from an anti-hunger group.
Since 2012, a Texas nonprofit has distributed more than 8 million pounds of rescued produce to more than 20,000 low-income families, and claims to be acclimating kids and entire families to prefer a healthier diet built around fresh fruits and vegetables, reports Civil Eats.
Some 51.5 percent of schools in high-poverty areas offer free breakfast and lunch to all students through the so-called community eligibility provision of the 2010 school food law, said USDA.