"Health happens where life happens. And for kids, a large portion of life happens at school. Itʼs where kids spend most of their day, learning, socializing with friends, and developing important life skills. And while the “new normal” for schools may look vastly different for the upcoming school year, school will remain a vital component of kids' lives.
Beyond instruction and comradery, there is something else that children receive within the educational system: nutrition. Many kids eat two meals per day at school. However, a stark reality for some children is that those two meals may be the only ones they have each day.
Children who are food insecure are at greater risk of repeating a grade, having social and behavioral problems, and experiencing developmental impairment. Without adequate food, children are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health conditions like asthma and anemia. These developmental, educational and health consequences stick with children the rest of their lives. North Carolina is one of the top ten agricultural producers in the United States, yet we have the 11th highest childhood food insecurity rate in the country. Approximately 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger in our state. This makes federal nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps) the first line of defense against childhood hunger for many. School meals are critical for more than 900,000 children in North Carolina. But even at a reduced rate it can be a financial strain on families struggling to pay for rent, transportation, health care and other life necessities."
Read the full article here.
On March 14th of this year when Governor Cooper issued his Executive Order and closed North Carolina public schools statewide, the first challenge was how do we continue to offer this essential service and feed our students? This podcast is part of a series focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our food system. Today we're looking at how North Carolina's School Meal Programs have adapted during the pandemic and how some school children are continuing to get the nutrition that they need.