Giving Compass' Take:

• Rural schools in Hamburg, Iowa, shed light on the effectiveness of school districts that provide meals for students during COVID-19. 

• How can donors help expand school meal programs during this time? How can you work on creating equitable food access for your community?

• Read more on connecting kids to healthy food during COVID-19.

Families often count on their local school districts to provide two meals a day for their kids. But with school buildings closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, getting meals to students can be a challenge, especially in rural areas.

Rural families also often find it difficult to drive many miles to see if the grocery store has restocked needed items.

“They don’t have gas in their vehicles, they don’t have groceries, and they don’t have the ability, really, to go get groceries,” says Mike Wells, the superintendent of both the Hamburg and Essex school districts in Iowa.

On a recent spring day, Wells is delivering breakfast and lunch to Nicole Hinds’ family, who live outside of Hamburg, Iowa.

With all of the kids out of school, school districts like Hamburg are giving kids ages 1 through 18 two meals a day, five days a week. Hinds says the meals save her from spending money on extra lunchmeat and bread for the kids.

That may include asking families to wait to open the door until staff are safely in their cars, a move to protect people from community spread of COVID-19. But Wells says his school districts won’t stop getting kids the food they need.

Wells says as good as it is to see the kids, these deliveries are more important for the many families living paycheck to paycheck. He says delivering meals allows his staff to check in on families and see what else they might need.

Read the full article about how rural families get food during the pandemic by Katie Peikes at Harvest Public Media.