Title

Feeding Students During COVID-19—Related School Closures: A Nationwide Assessment of Initial Responses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-1-2020

Journal

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Volume

52

Issue

12

DOI

10.1016/j.jneb.2020.09.018

Keywords

COVID-19; federal nutrition assistance; food insecurity; policymaking; schools

Abstract

© 2020 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Objective: To conduct a nationwide assessment of child nutrition administrative agencies’ responses to meal service provision during coronavirus disease 2019–related school closures. Design: Systematic coding of government websites (February–May 2020) regarding school meal provision in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, 5 US territories, and the US Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Education. Participants: All US jurisdictions (N = 57). Variables Measured: Seven coding criteria were established to assess the strengths and weaknesses of jurisdictions’ responses derived from emergency declarations, school closure announcements, and government websites on emergency school meals. Analysis: Descriptive analyses. Results: Most jurisdictions mentioned school meal provisions in school closure announcements (76.4%), provided easily interpretable information and/or maps about meal sites (57.9%), and included detailed information about school meal provisions in their coronavirus disease 2019 landing webpages (n = 26, 51%). Fewer provided updated and comprehensive implementation guidance (39.3%), referenced school closures in emergency declarations (37.5%), had clear communication/outreach to families (21.4%), or partnered with antihunger organizations (11.6%). Conclusions and Implications: Understanding initial jurisdictions’ approaches are critical to current and future emergency planning during school closures and reopening to help address food insecurity better, limit disease transmission, and prevent health disparities, particularly among at-risk populations.

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