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Hunger Started Early This Year Due to COVID-19 School Closures

Here are the top 5 things you need to know about child hunger in our community.

Presented by All Faiths Food Bank April 9, 2020

All Faiths Food Bank is working hard to make sure children don’t go hungry while schools are closed due to the coronavirus and during the summer.

The Campaign Against Summer Hunger has been accelerated this year as schools have closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the top 5 things you need to know about child hunger in our community.

1. 40,000 children are at risk of hunger right now and over the summer   

Did you know summer is normally the hungriest time of year for children in need? Due to current circumstances, schools have closed and hunger has begun.

In Sarasota County, nearly 50 percent of children participate in the free and reduced meal programs at school; and in DeSoto County, 100 percent of students rely on these meals during the school year. When you include younger siblings who are not yet in the school system this typically equates to 40,000 children at risk of hunger when schools break for the summer. In response to a survey carried out by the food bank last year, 64 percent of participants stated it was harder to feed their family over the summer than during the rest of the year.

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, changes in work schedules and the need for social isolation have layered extra burdens on our neighbors. Some children have already lost school meals they depend on and families are struggling with lost wages.

2. The Campaign Against Summer Hunger started feeding children and families three months early

Over the last few years, All Faiths Food Bank’s Campaign Against Summer Hunger has become our community’s strongest line of defense against child hunger. Each year, the Food Bank’s campaign normally runs from April 1 until May 15 to raise funds for summer feeding programs but, because of COVID-19, the campaign and summer programs have been accelerated. The Food Bank started summer food programs and mobilized partners to help feed these children in March instead of June.

Not knowing if schools will reopen, the food bank is preparing for a longer investment in meeting our community’s needs. That also means needing to raise at least two times as much to feed kids now through September.

3. Uncertain times call for innovative ways to feed children and families

All Faiths Food Bank is working hard to make sure children don’t go hungry now and during the summer. Programs are being accelerated to respond to the increased demand and adapted to adhere to precautionary measures and recommendations. Programs include: 

  • Drive-through mobile distributions with pre-boxed and pre-bagged food
  • Partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs, Children First, Girls Inc and others to provide supplemental food to families
  • Partnerships with Sarasota and DeSoto County School District Food and Nutrition Services to provide them with bags of food, backpacks, snacks and equipment for their meal services
  • Support of our Partner Agencies with pre-boxed and bagged food and safe distribution information based on CDC recommendations

4. All Faiths Food Bank is built for disaster relief and recovery efforts

All Faiths Food Bank is one of the lead emergency response organizations in Sarasota and the State of Florida. Our efficient work and network of community partners means that we are uniquely prepared to respond to crises.

With expertise in logistics and emergency food distribution, All Faiths can provide immediate support to individuals and families during these unprecedented times.

5. You can make a difference, too

Your support is needed now more than ever. You can join the Campaign Against Summer Hunger COVID-19 response and make a difference for thousands of children who may otherwise go hungry without your help. Join the campaign today by:

  • Making a donation—your gift will be matched dollar for dollar
  • Starting a virtual fundraiser
  • Telling your family, co-workers, friends and neighbors

Visit www.allfaithsfoodbank.org or call 941-379-6333 for more information and ways to lend your support.