How churches can help with children's nutrition and health during the pandemic
The opportunities to help aren't hard to imagine. Here are several to start your thinking.
With school closings, free breakfast and lunch programs are disrupted or not available in every school. What's available varies state to state and locally. With economic disruptions, some families may be out of funds to purchase learning and sanitary supplies this fall.
Begin by reaching out to local municipalities, other churches, and community groups about what they are already doing or planning, and where the needs are.
1. Know what's going on in your community (or not happening) and promote where needy kids can get a nutritious breakfast and lunch.
The USDA's summer lunch program ends in August but will likely be extended in many areas this fall. Search their interactive map for locations in your community which are part of the USDA's free lunch program.
Some local restaurants are offering free meals to kids.
Check your state and county resources for information on local food programs, including how your church can offer meals and be reimbursed. For example, in Ohio community organizations can apply for reimbursement.
2. Collect and distribute masks, soap, cleaning supplies, and hand-sanitizers to kids and families in need.
Contact your local foodbank for items needed and drop-off times.
Include school supplies (and offers such as tutoring or free wifi).
Watch for local "Back to School Backpack" giveaways typically sponsored by other organizations at the start of fall school and piggyback on their efforts to provide kids with AT HOME resources.
Help distribute information about utility and internet assistance, and health information. The CDC has a lot of printable posters and pages for all sorts of situations and in many different languages.
3. Identify and find ways to appreciate care-givers, teachers, and healthcare workers.