The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity in New York State: in July 2020, more than one in ten New York households were food-insecure, and households with children were more likely to be food-insecure than households without children. Although research has shown that school meals can help decrease these food inequities, we know from New York City data that participation in school meals dropped by almost 70% in April 2020. However, we do not have this kind of data for New York State.
Knowing the number of school meals missed in New York State during COVID-19 school closures can help officials and advocates identify where need is greatest. That’s why the Tisch Food Center is looking at the number of school breakfasts and school lunches in that NYS public school districts, charter schools, private/parochial schools, and community provided last school year.
Comparing the number of school meals served pre-COVID-19 in May 2019 to the number served post-COVID-19 in May 2020, we will be able to calculate the number of missed school meals per day and per school year. We will be able to compare the number of missed meals for different counties, school types, and school poverty levels so that the state and nonprofits can target resources where need is highest.
We will publish a research article and short policy brief with county level maps, which we will share with the state, community groups, key advocates, and the press to continue to advocate for accessible, healthy, and appealing food for all. Our findings will help inform future implementation of emergency school meals and could help improve summer food programs in the future.