Evaluation of COVID-19 School Meals Response
School closures during COVID-19 have increased the risk for food insecurity among children across the United States, including in Maryland. To support access to meals for children during school closures, the emergency Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was initiated in lieu of traditional school meals programs, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). Federal and State governments also issued several temporary waivers (described in the figure below) to enable flexibilities to existing policies to support the provision of these emergency meals.
The Maryland School Wellness Partnership worked with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Maryland School Systems (Local Education Agencies or LEAs), and Food Service leadership at three levels (State, LEA, and meal site) to evaluate meal provision during COVID-19-related school closures.
- Examine the reach (number of free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch meals served before versus after spring 2020 COVID-19-related school closures) and effectiveness (number of total breakfast and lunch meals served before versus after school closures), and the role of federal waiver utilization and communication/meal distribution strategies associated with reach and effectiveness;
- Describe adoption (via communication with families) and implementation costs of school meal service;
- Understand public LEA and distribution site-level implementation processes for meal provision, including supportive factors and barriers; and,
- Understand strategies for maintenance of meal service (following Spring 2020 school closures).
PI: Erin Hager, PhD, Associate Professor
Rachel Deitch, MS, CHES, Project Coordinator