As daunting as this year has been, we learned once again in the face of uncertainty, a friendly face, familiar routine and people coming together can get us through the worst, even when the end still seems so distant.
No single group of people exemplifies this lesson better than the frontline meal providers who work in our nation’s schools. These brave and resilient individuals rolled up sleeves within days of the start of the pandemic and kept meals stocked and ready at bus stops, grab-n-go lines and delivered to front doors – individuals like Beth Brewster, supervisor of food services for Caroline County Public Schools in rural Maryland.
“So many kids rely on school, on us, for healthy meals,” she said. “We found out on a Thursday that school was closing, and we were fully operational by Monday. We never, never stopped getting meals out. It’s been exhausting, but the stories have kept me going.”
At No Kid Hungry, we’re proud and humbled to have helped give leaders like Brewster the resources and equipment they need to get the job done despite the odds. That’s the nature of true partnership—us doing what we do best so those putting themselves at risk on the front lines can do what they do best.
Thanks to generous individuals, corporations and partners like you, No Kid Hungry has sent $100 million through more than 2,300 grants to support local communities since March 2020. These grants have helped schools, local nonprofits and food banks serve more than 1.5 billion meals.
These meals have gone to kindergarteners like Sophia in South Florida, whose mother lost her job to the pandemic and father José had to take on a second part-time job to make ends meet.
He said, “Our school started offering free, healthy meals to kids, and the grant from No Kid Hungry was a big help. Being able to pick up a daily breakfast and lunch for Sophia was a huge relief. I’m not sure what we would have done without those meals.”
Beyond grants, we’ve been helping put food directly on the table for Americans by working with elected officials and raising awareness about resources for families in need.
Our advocacy efforts in Congress helped increase average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) benefits for families by more than 21% over pre-pandemic levels, while our free meals finder map and texting line has helped 445,000 families find their kids food since the pandemic hit.
As head of child nutrition for California’s Rialto Unified School District, Fausat Rahman-Davies saw scores of families when she launched grab-n-go meals sites with help from No Kid Hungry.
“People were walking from almost three miles away to get to us," she said. "One mother did that, her two-year-old in a stroller, seven-year-old son walking next to her, and bag in hand to carry the meals. She told me, ‘I need this food. My kids haven’t eaten breakfast.”
That struggle is far from over for so many families across the country. With supporters like you in 2022, we’ll continue to give schools and local partners the resources, tools and training to feed kids. We’ll pilot programs in which hospitals can prescribe and provide nutritious food to pediatric patients, and we’ll expand our work to reach babies to kindergarteners with three meals a day.
As 2021 comes to a close, please read our report “One Hungry Kid is Too Many” to hear from the heroes who have been tirelessly feeding children since this pandemic first hit, and from a brave parent doing the best he can for his family. These heroes need your support and partnership for the long recovery ahead.
Please stay with us in the fight to feed hungry children now and for good.
As Rialto’s Rahman-Davies said, “Ensuring no child goes hungry is going to take all of us.”