The summer months should be a time for children to play with friends and enjoy their childhood. However, this summer many families across the United States are reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and wondering where their next meal will come from.
According to a recent Brookings study, 40.9 percent of mothers with children under 12 reported household food insecurity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also found that food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to today. The loss of jobs and income have not only wreaked havoc for the most vulnerable, but also millions of others across the country. With unemployment rates still above 13 percent, those who have been laid off continue to struggle as their unplanned unemployment continues. More than 44 million people have applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic — about 29 percent of the workforce.
Feed the Children, a leading hunger relief organization, is working with community partners including schools, churches and other non-profits across the United States to make sure food continues to reach food-insecure families when summer hunger strikes. In addition to providing bulk food supplies and daily essential items to its community partners to support the work they do in their cities to combat summer hunger; the nonprofit also manages a summer feeding program.
Nearly 30 million children rely on free or reduced lunches, and not all of them can take advantage of feeding programs that have been set up by schools in the wake of COVID-19. Feed the Children’s summer feeding program is designed to help bridge the gap for kids who rely on school breakfasts and lunches when school is not in session.
The organization has looked for innovative ways to defeat hunger including contactless drive-thru events and delivering meals door to door. Some community partners even offered a call in number to ensure that meals were reaching families. Although the summer feeding program is typically held only in the summer months, the organization began distributing food and essentials to community partners in March to ensure that children and their families continued to have consistent access to nutritious food despite schools being closed due to the pandemic. In the last three months, Feed the Children has distributed more than 18 million pounds of food and essentials to families across America and plans to continue its efforts through the summer months.
“This program is helping make sure all the little ones get the nutrition that they need throughout the day daily and that we can help each other as a community,” said Paula, a mom of two young boys. “I'm very grateful for it. I am very appreciative to know that the community is just willing to lend a helping hand.”
Individuals and businesses can make a difference in the lives of children by supporting Feed the Children’s efforts to fight summer hunger. This will provide kids an opportunity to stay active and enjoy their summer. Through partnerships, the organization can provide $7 in food and essentials for each $1 donated.
Ronnie, age 11, says being hungry in the summer isn’t as rare as you might think. “It just happens,” he said. “But when you don’t have any more food at home, there’s Feed the Children who helps out.”