Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Kanawha County Schools 2020 Summer Feeding Program
Overview: In Kanawha County, West Virginia, children 18 and under may pick up a weekly meal kit including five breakfasts, five lunches and milk throughout the summer.
Location: Kanawha County, West Virginia
Population: 180,454 (2018 data)
Food policy category: Food security; Diet and nutrition
Program goals: To ensure that children are fed throughout the summer months
How it works: Kanawha County Schools are part of the federally funded Summer Food Service Program. Beginning on June 8, Kanawha schools will be providing free summer meal kits to all children 18 and under who wish to participate, whether or not they are enrolled in a Kanawha County public school. The program will run through August 4.
Families will be able to pick up their meal kit at any one of 19 schools in the county on either Monday or Tuesday, depending on the schedule for the particular site. Upon arrival at the school, recipients will be asked to drive up to the check-in point and open their trunk or side door. Staff members wearing masks will load the meals into the car and close the door. This protocol will reduce the amount of physical contact required to distribute and receive the meals in order to avoid any spreading of COVID-19.
The meal kits include five breakfasts and five lunches, as well as milk. Some items included in the meals will require refrigeration within two hours and will be labeled accordingly. All meals have a shelf life of 10 days.
Progress to date: In previous years, the schools have served meals on-site, and students were able to eat breakfast and/or lunch together at the distribution site. Because of COVID-19, this will be the first year that meals are distributed for off-site consumption. The meal kit distribution program for this summer will begin on June 8.
Why it is important: Per the 2020 County Health Rankings, 26 percent of children in Kanawha County live in poverty and 14 percent of all residents are food insecure. Due to the pandemic, nearly 10,000 residents in the county filed new unemployment claims in recent months, and unemployment rates rose from 5.5 percent in March to 17.8 percent in April.
Many children eat breakfast and lunch at school because their families are unable to afford or provide adequate food and nutrition at home. When schools closed in March because of COVID-19, many school systems including Kanawha County continued to provide meals to students via on-site pick up or bus delivery. During their final week of bus deliveries, Kanawha County provided 112,500 meals. Spokesperson Briana Warner said, “We know a lot of families rely on those meals and we were happy to provide them just as we would as if children were in school. So this summer, and every summer, that need doesn’t decrease.”
Program/Policy initiated: The summer feeding program will begin on June 8, 2020.
Point of contact:
Diane Miller, Executive Director, Kanawha County Schools Child Nutrition Department
Similar practices: Many cities and counties including New York City; Waco and San Antonio, Texas; and Sioux City, Iowa, are providing free meals during the summer. It is unclear, however, if any other locations are using a weekly meal distribution system similar to the one in Kanawha County.
Evaluation: Evaluation has not been conducted for this program.
- Could Children Go Hungry this Summer from Coronavirus? Food Banks Worry, Schools’ Plans Unclear (The Times – Picayune)
- COVID-19 Congregate Meal Waivers & Q&As on Summer Meal Delivery Using Existing Authority (Food and Nutrition Service, US Department of Agriculture)
- Hunger Program’s Slow Start Leaves Millions of Children Waiting (New York Times)
- Hunger Takes No Summer Break: When School’s Out, the Challenge is How to Feed More Kids (NBC News)
- 2019 KCS Summer Food Service Information (Kanawha County Schools)
- 2020 County Health Rankings State Reports (County Health Rankings)
- All 55 Counties Show Unemployment Increases in April (West Virginia MetroNews)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- COVID-19 Meal Programs at Sioux City Schools to Continue Into the Summer (KTIV)
- Kanawha County Lunch Program Plans to Feed Thousands this Summer (WOWK 13)
- Kanawha County Schools Offering Meal Kits for Summer Food Program (Eyewitness News WCHS)
- Kanawha Will Keep Providing Children 5-day Meal Boxes During Summer, but Won’t Be Delivering Them to Bus Stops (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
- KCS 2020 Summer Feeding Program (Kanawha County Schools)
- Summer Food Service Program (Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture)
- Summer Meals (New York City Department of Education)
- These San Antonio Schools are Offering Free Lunches All Summer (KSAT)
- Waco ISD Offering Free Summer Meals Program (ABC 25)
- West Virginia (County Health Rankings)