Schools need urgent help to feed their students

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 4:59 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - One of the most troubling outcomes of the pandemic is its impact on school meals/feeding. With 30 million students depending on federal meal programs, school closures have put school meal delivery and distribution at risk. Before COVID-19, 1 in 6 kids was food insecure. Now it’s 1 in 4. The meals crisis underscores the role schools play in strengthening kids' lives, particularly vulnerable students who face inequities due to socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity.

Even as school buildings remain closed for learning, schools are still feeding kids. In time for Hunger Action Month, GENYOUth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities, has just released new data and findings highlighting the crisis that schools continue to face in feeding their students. Given the pandemic’s impact on schools, delivering and distributing meals has never been more important or trickier.

On Wednesday, Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth, joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 to talk about the findings.

According to a Healthier School Communities report by GENYOUth, all the steps schools can take toward creating healthier, higher-achieving students and a culture of wellness, implementing school breakfast is perhaps the simplest and most cost-effective, with very possibly the most direct impact. Breakfast is linked with numerous health and educational benefits — including improved academic performance, student behavior, school attendance and nutrition intake, while also addressing hunger. A 2016 systematic review stated that the "dietary outcomes most commonly reported to have positive associations with academic achievement were: breakfast consumption ... and global diet quality/ meal patterns ..., whereas negative associations reported with junk/fast food.” Additionally, because schools receive federal reimbursement for each meal served, school breakfast supports the financial bottom line. The national School Breakfast Program (SBP) is an important solution that provides a healthy morning meal to millions of students across the country. But many millions more students are missing out. In fact, only 57.5 low-income students participate in school breakfast for every 100 who participate in school lunch.

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