Too Many Families In Need Aren’t Taking Advantage Of Free Meals. Here’s How You Can Help.

There’s a lot we can do.

Sponsored By No Kid Hungry
Asian American woman and daughter standing in front of school bus free meals for kids

One morning this winter, a nine-year-old girl couldn’t sit still or pay attention in her Zoom class. When her teacher asked her to focus, the third grader started crying and couldn’t stop. She confessed to the class: I’m hungry. Thankfully, in this case, her teacher and school social worker helped her family find the community resources they needed. As teachers, when we hear this story, the first thing we think is, “I know this is happening with my students” or “I’m worried my students’ families are struggling with food insecurity, and I don’t know it.”

Today 1 in 4 kids may be living with hunger because of the pandemic. In the past year, No Kid Hungry has helped serve kids and families nearly 1 billion meals at school and community sites nationwide. Yet, too many families still don’t know the resources available to them. Here are some ways No Kid Hungry believes teachers can play an important role in helping their students get the meals they need:

Use the meal finder map to find sites near your school that provide meals.

Visit this free meal map and look up the local places near your school serving free breakfast and lunch. Share your findings with families and students. For example, we searched in our area and found three different sites within walking distance.

Make talking about where to find free meals normal and shame-free in your classroom.

Too often, school staff believe that hunger or need are issues that can only be talked about in a whisper. When we share resources openly, when we write the closest location for a free meal on the board for students to see or send it home in a parent newsletter, we send the message that it is fine and good to use these services. And equally importantly, when we share openly, we are able to reach families we don’t realize have the need–those families who may never raise a hand to say that they are food insecure.

Share this video in your parent newsletter or on your school’s social channels.

This quick No Kid Hungry video explains several different ways families can access the meals finder map and other resources.

Get the word out about this easy text line to locate meals-to-go for families.

Thanks to No Kid Hungry, you can simply text “food” to 877-877 to find a site near you where you can pick up meals safely, conveniently, and free of charge.

Get your students involved and show them how they can help too.

The more that students and their families know about food services available in your community, the fewer the children that will come to school hungry. Share with your students how they can help, and make it a class project to spread the word. For example, your students could make posters sharing the number to text to find free meals or the locations of the nearest three free meal providers. Your students could share what they’ve learned in a school assembly or during school announcements. They could even make their own video. What a great way for your students to help the school community and learn the power they have to make a difference.