How FoodCorps is Responding to COVID-19

FoodCorps’ mission is to connect kids to healthy food at school. What happens when the school communities we serve are shuttered?

The public health crisis unfolding around COVID-19 has triggered an atmosphere of stress, uncertainty, and fear for all of us. While emergency responses like school and business closures are necessary to keep communities healthy, they will have disproportionate ramifications for Americans who already struggle to make ends meet. This crisis has exposed what we’ve known for years: that there are deep-seated structural inequities in our education and public health systems.

We’re particularly concerned for the 30 million kids who rely on school meals for their daily nourishment, as well as their families. We know countless Americans’ health and livelihoods will be gravely impacted by COVID-19, and that catastrophic economic consequences of the pandemic will be felt long after the worst of the virus has passed. Like many others, we’re anxious and frustrated that so much—about the virus and its likely aftermath—is still unknown. 

But one thing we know for sure is that our school communities will not have to weather this crisis alone. Following the lead of our school partners, service members, state teams, nonprofit partners, and school nutrition leaders, FoodCorps is dedicating our resources in new and different ways to supporting kids, schools, and communities through this challenging time. 

Here’s what we’re doing, starting immediately, to respond to COVID-19:

Responding to the immediate needs of kids, schools, and communities where possible.

Widespread school closures are impacting our ability to connect kids to food. That means our scope of work is changing, for the time being. In the schools where FoodCorps serves, we’re working with staff and service members to change what service looks like based on what each community needs. Where they can, service members are supporting emergency food relief and innovative school meal distribution procedures, to ensure kids and communities get the nourishment they need. Others are sheltering in place to complete remote service, like lesson planning and webinar-based education, or facilitating home learning opportunities for students. In other places, members are leading efforts to support and thank the school nutrition professionals on the frontlines of feeding vulnerable children in this uncharted territory. We’re staying in close contact with sites, schools, and school nutrition professionals to better understand the landscape of their needs, recognizing that what works in one community might not work for another. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see updates in real time.

Supporting our service members and staff.

Schools closures are impacting every state  where FoodCorps serves. We’re taking steps to ensure our AmeriCorps service members are safe, healthy, and equipped to support their communities if they can. We’re guiding some service members through safe redeployment to alternative service opportunities, including supporting emergency feeding services in areas impacted by school closures. We’re also enabling meaningful temporary remote service, such as lesson planning and webinar-based education. We’re providing additional emergency funding to service members who need it. And together we’re closely monitoring the guidelines from the CDC and our local government officials, and navigating how best to follow all safety precautions while we continue to show up for our school communities. In addition, all of our full-time staff are working remotely until further notice. 

Advocating for federal action.

The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on glaring structural inequities in our public health and education systems. FoodCorps calls for the immediate passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will take initial steps to ensure that families continue to have access to school meals and SNAP benefits. Children will go hungry and families will suffer if Congress and our administration do not provide solutions. We are paying close attention to the leadership of our federal and state officials; to that end, we encourage you to sign up for our advocacy alerts to stay connected on immediate actions you can take to speak up for healthy school meals during an unprecedented time—one in which kids aren’t going to school, but schools are showing up for kids.

Finally, as we continue to both respond in real time and plan for the future, we’re developing a list of resources for educators, families, school nutrition leaders, and community members who wish to respond to and support those impacted by COVID-19. Above all, we remain committed to a world where every child is safe, healthy, and cared for. Despite these tumultuous times, we stand with communities across the country in upholding that commitment. 

FoodCorps is a non-partisan, non-profit organization. FoodCorps staff and FoodCorps AmeriCorps members may not participate in any partisan or seemingly partisan activities during work time charged to a Corporation for National and Community Service funded grant or while earning AmeriCorps service hours. No federal funds were used to prepare or distribute these advocacy actions.