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Opinion: 4 things our nation should do to feed hungry students so they can learn

September 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Ron Astor writes that amid a pervasive pandemic, students' basic need of food is not being adequately met because of food delivery logistics (or an inability of students, parents or caregivers to go to distribution sites) and lack of a national distribution plan.

The federal National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was launched and signed into law in 1947 by President Harry Truman because our country understood that it is not possible to learn, develop or thrive in school if a student is sitting in class hungry.

Congress, through the United States Department of Agriculture, recently extended waivers for its Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option for students, which allows meals to be served in all areas of the country without cost and includes flexibility of who is able to pick up the food -- until December 31, 2020 or until funding runs out.

But it is a grossly insufficient response to the needs of students and their families when you look at how many students aren't being reached because of food delivery logistics (or an inability of students, parents or caregivers to go to distribution sites) and lack of a national distribution plan.

In a June national study, more than 62% of school social workers reported that half or more of their school's students were struggling with hunger and food insufficiency.

School staff have played a key role in the distribution of food to students.

We should fully fund the existing program to match the growing needs and create a coherent federal plan to help states and school districts feed the large numbers of hungry students.

Even though the NSLP and summer meal programs are federally run, and we are in a national food crisis for millions of families, we have no publicly available, accurate, real-time assessments on how many students have been receiving free meals since school closed.

Millions more enrolled and, because potentially eligible students don't always live in districts that have initiated Covid-19 school breakfast and lunch distribution programs, those providing services often are reaching only a fraction of students who are eligible.

Provide funding for logistics and increase human capacity, focused exclusively on the distribution of food to all students and their families.

4. Re-deploy police funding and reassign school police and school resource officers as part of the local and national food distribution effort.

Just imagine if instead of policing school hallways, the newly trained officers become engaged in providing food to hungry students and their families.

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