This blog post is part of an ongoing series that aim to assist youth service providers in their COVID-19 response efforts. For more information and resources, please visit TNOYS’ blog, or visit the COVID-19 resource page.
Local governments are responding to COVID 19 with “stay-at home” policies, which has led to the closure of non-essential businesses, and school closings. Business closures have led to layoffs, which has resulted in an 860% increase in unemployment claims over the last week according to the Texas Tribune. As folks lose their jobs, youth are also losing critical access to meals they usually receive through free and reduced lunch programs at their schools. State agencies, schools, food banks, and local organizations and businesses throughout the state are organizing to ensure that children and youth still have access to food at this time. Below are some resources to assist youth and families in finding food access points.
Food Assistance through Schools
Schools across the state are still offering pick up for meals. This website has an interactive map to find the nearest school meal site. The user can enter an address or search by meal site. The website also includes information on meals served (breakfast and/or lunch) as well as days of meals, with some sites operating 7 days a week. Texas Education Agency is updating the data for this map on an ongoing basis. As of March 26, 2020, children do not need to be present for parents/guardians to pick up meals – please check with school meal sites if they have implemented the “No Child Present” guidance and know what to expect.
Select districts (mostly in rural areas), have signed up to have meals delivered to families in need. Individual students or families can check if their district participates in the program, and if so, can sign up for meal delivery. The service is a partnership between the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. According to TDA, “The Meals-to-You program will provide shelf-stable, easily prepared, kid-friendly meals to students during unexpected school closures lasting four weeks or longer to eligible families at no cost.”
Food Assistance through Food Banks
This statewide network of food banks serves all 254 counties of Texas. Enter your zip code on their website to find the contact information of the closest member food bank. They can offer assistance to find the nearest food pantry for food assistance at no cost.
Food Assistance through Federal and State Programs
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Update
As of March 28, 2020, SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, will automatically renew for existing clients. Therefore, folks that were expecting to need to call or submit renewals will no longer need to do so until further notice. Additionally, people who would like to start receiving benefits no longer need to complete interviews in an effort to expedite new applications. Find out more and apply for benefits through YourTexasBenefits.com.
A new initiative in response to COVID 19, the Comfort Food Care Packages program connects people in need of meals with restaurants that can donate meals. Your local Family and Youth Success program (former “STAR” program) provider can connect you to these meals. Identify the nearest Family and Youth Success provider using this resource. Each care package contains enough food to feed 5 to 6 people and will be delivered to recipients’ homes. The initiative is a collaboration from the Governors Public Safety Office, Family and Youth Success Programs, the Texas Restaurant Association, and Favor Delivery.
Additional Local Programs
Local communities, including restaurants and nonprofits, are coming together to offer free meals to folks that have lost employment due to COVID 19. Check out your local news to find what assistance may exist in your community.
TNOYS is committed to providing up to date guidance and information relevant to Texas youth service providers as we all experience the rapidly changing landscape we are all navigating as a result of COVID-19. This blog post is part of a blog series detailing relevant information to assist youth service providers as they respond to this ongoing crisis. Below, please find TNOYS’ COVID-19 resource page, and other helpful blog posts:
- Resources and Information on COVID-19
- How to Access Hand Sanitizer and Masks for Your Organization
- Purchasing Bulk Groceries for Your Organization
- Activities and Projects for Youth in Shelters or RTCs during COVID-19
If you have questions or information you would like to share with the TNOYS network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.