Nationwide, families who rely on school meals for breakfast and lunch are worried about feeding their children. In North Carolina, an organization at UNC-Chapel Hill is reducing that stress.
No Kid Hungry North Carolina was formed in 2011 in partnership with state leaders and the national No Kid Hungry campaign, a program of the nonprofit organization Share Our Strength. In 2014, No Kid Hungry NC became an initiative housed within UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), which has close ties to the University’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Gillings School faculty member Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Mildred Kaufman Distinguished Professor of nutrition, is the center’s director.
In normal times, members of the No Kid Hungry NC network connect children in need with nutritious food through effective but underutilized federal nutrition programs like school breakfast, summer meals and afterschool meals. They also teach families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.
During the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed schools for months on end, schools and organizations administering federal child nutrition programs and the organizations supporting them have pivoted to different types of programming. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a series of waivers to make it easier for schools and community organizations to serve free meals through federal nutrition programs. These waivers have allowed for a variety of innovative strategies, such as drive-through pick-up of children’s meals by adults, lifting area eligibility rules to reach more families and distributing multiple days’ worth of meals at once.