USDA is collaborating with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 5 million meals to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19, five times the original goal.
Initially, Meals to You aimed to deliver nearly 1 million meals per week to students eligible for free and reduced-price meals in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. But that goal has been quickly surpassed. Meals to You has already shipped nearly 3.5 million meals to the homes of children in 12 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
In the last few weeks, 23 additional states and Puerto Rico have requested to participate in Meals to You, so the partnership is now quickly ramping up to serve five million meals per week to help meet growing demand. With the initial weeks of the program having been a huge success, USDA worked closely with partners to substantially increase capacity. Thirteen of those states are approved and have families either enrolling or in the final stages of verification, while ten additional states and Puerto Rico have recently started the application process.
Meals to You boxes contain 20 nutritious meals – 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches – to cover the meals children would normally receive at school over two school weeks. Foods contained in the boxes meet USDA’s Summer Food Service Program meal standards and may include items like milk, fruit cups, cereal, whole-grain crackers, and chili. Boxes are delivered directly to children’s doorsteps via the U.S. Postal Service and other delivery services.
The Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty continues to work closely with states interested in the initiative and can now add more states to the program to meet continued demand.
“We are grateful to be a part of an innovative team made up of both the public and private sectors motivated by the strong desire to help our neighbors in need. We hope that the boxes of food will nourish children and communicate to their families that they are not in this tough circumstance alone,” said Jeremy Everett, Executive Director, Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.
“This USDA-funded program has been a lifeline to thousands of students across rural America that would otherwise go hungry during this challenging period,” said Denton McLane, Chairman of McLane Global. “We’ve shifted to a 24-hour production schedule across all locations to meet the demand, and couldn’t be prouder of our partners, employees and the people on the ground working to ensure these meals get to those who need it most.”
"In this time when millions of children are affected by school closures, it is a privilege to bring our scale and experience to this innovative partnership to serve our neighbors in need nationwide," aid Matt Smith, Senior Director of Food for Good at PepsiCo.
"Rural children affected by school closures faced food insecurity, but these great American groups and companies stepped up to help their fellow countrymen by delivering boxes of food across the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.