There’s no denying it: 2020 has been a devastating year. The coronavirus has had a profound impact on all of our lives and importantly, an impact on hunger in our communities. As many as 1 in 5 kids could face hunger today in Virginia, up from 1 in 8 before the pandemic.
It’s easy to look at these numbers and feel discouraged. As a campaign, we have worked since 2011 to move the needle alongside our partners to ensure that children have the food they need to learn, grow, and thrive. On the surface, it may seem that all that progress was erased in the span of ten long months, but we know better than that. While there may be families experiencing hunger for the first time, we also know that our communities are equipped with remarkable and perseverant hunger heroes working tirelessly to ensure Virginia’s children are nourished through this time of crisis and beyond.
In the first few months of 2020, more Virginia students were eating school breakfast than ever before. The very same school nutrition professionals who made this happen also quickly adapted to the school closures in March and found new ways to deliver meals. Whether classrooms were in-person or virtual, school nutrition staff connected our students with the food they need to stay healthy, succeed in school, and maintain a sense of normalcy during this unfamiliar year. Throughout the past few months, we’ve joined superintendents and school administrators in giving thanks and sharing our appreciation of these frontline workers.
Food Banks have contended with increasingly long lines, and yet they continue to find ways to partner with schools in new and innovative ways. From weekend backpack programs, to school markets, to supplemental groceries that accompany school meals, Food Banks help families keep food on the table as they bravely navigate this health and economic crisis.
We’ve also been encouraged to see state and local leadership prioritize food access. This includes expanding the Community Eligibility Provision, which will result in 385,000 Virginia students having access to no cost school breakfast and lunch in years to come. 2020 also brought the launch of the Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger, which outlines concrete actions to ensure students have reliable access to nutritious meals during this pandemic and beyond.
While the work ahead of us may seem daunting, we know that we are surrounded by partners, leaders, and unsung heroes across the state ready to double down on the fight against childhood hunger. We are beyond grateful for your partnership and support during this tumultuous year. We still believe hunger to be a problem we can solve, together, and we will continue to strive for a Virginia where no child goes hungry.
The No Kid Hungry Virginia Team
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But millions don’t know where their next meal is coming from. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign by Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.