Special to The Dallas Examiner
Although hundreds of school districts in Texas will be closed for at least a week or longer to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, a coalition of schools, state and federal agencies, advocacy groups and nonprofits have worked hard to make sure children and families do not lose access to nutritious meals while schools are closed.
To help families with children find food sites in their local communities, the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty has launched a website that provides a running list of school closures accompanied by the meals schools will have available. The COVID-19 TX Food Resource website is available at http://www.covid19txfoodresources.org. The spreadsheet can be found under the “School Food Resources” tab.
In Dallas, Grab-and-go Spring Break Meals will be free to all Dallas ISD students through the age of 18, and students who turn 19 during the current school year – on or after the first day of school, and to students with disabilities without regard to age. Students can pick up the meals and eat them off site March 16 through March 19: Morning Snack from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Spring Meals are subject to change, so visit the webpage for updates and locations.
As new food sites are opened, the list will be updated by the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty with information gathered by the Texas Hunger Initiative, Feeding Texas and Communities in Schools of Texas.
“We are working with state and local officials to ensure all children in Texas have ample food access during school closures due to COVID-19,” said Jeremy Everett, executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “In most communities, parents and guardians can take their children to pick up a sack breakfast or lunch from their local school or designated pick-up site. This website will keep communities updated on site locations and times when food will be available. We are grateful for so many people from Washington D.C. to your local school nutrition teams stepping up for the children of Texas.”
The Texas Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it had been granted a waiver from U.S. Department of Agriculture child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, allowing TDA to grant schools the freedom on a case-by-case basis to provide meals on an individual basis while the school is closed. Even at a time of social distancing due to COVID-19, the waiver will help ensure students still have access to food.
Important information regarding meal access:
- Children need to be present to receive free meals.
- Meals are available for children and teenagers under the age of 18.
- If schools are serving both breakfast and lunch, these meals are not necessarily served at the same time. Please refer to the “School Food Resources” tab for site-specific distribution information.
- If a school district or community is not represented, visit the “Share with Us” tab and tell us what you know. As appropriate, it will be added to the site.
- If an individual or family needs food resources, they can complete the form on the “I Need Help” tab. If the Collaborative knows of resources in the area, the individual will be contacted.
The collaborative brings together a large network of researchers and practitioners working on a national scale to find innovative hunger and poverty solutions through such projects as the Texas Hunger Initiative, the Global Hunger and Migration Project and the newly launched Hunger Data Lab. Collaborative scholars conduct interdisciplinary hunger and poverty research with local, state, national and global relevance.
As a project of the collaborative, the THI conducts university-based research to determine what interventions work to address food insecurity and provides the support and expertise to coordinate work in communities and put those programs into action. THI has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Angelo and Waco.
To date, THI has provided technical assistance to more than 25 states and plays a prominent role in Washington, D.C., in developing scalable solutions to address hunger and poverty nationwide.