The Importance of School Lunches
We don’t like to think about it, but food insecurity (and by extent, child food insecurity) is a huge issue in the United States, with 12.5% of the overall population qualifying as food insecure and 17% of the population aged 18 or younger qualifying [Source: Feeding America].
Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to the necessary amount of food for household members to lead an active, healthy life and / or the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food insecure children are those children living in households experiencing food insecurity.
School-provided meals provide consistent, adequate nutrition throughout the school year, helping to alleviate food insecurity. However, COVID-related school closings have affected this consistency.
Canton South Case Study
Canton South, located in Stark County, Ohio, has a slightly higher percentage of food insecurity than the national average (14.2% overall and 20.5% under 18). Canton South Nutrition and Wellness organized to distribute meals to hundreds of students (see their distribution method here). Their dedicated staff prepared over 2,000 meal packages per week to distribute; each package included enough food for 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches per child, along with a gallon of milk. Thanks to their efforts, the Canton South community has been able to provide healthy, nutritionally complete meals to all families in need.