Kanawha County Schools Offer Weekly Summer Meal Kits to All Children

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Kanawha County Meal

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
Email: dmmiller@mail.kana.k12.wv.us
Phone: 304-348-6660

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. 

Learn more:


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