Survey Reveals COVID-19 School Meal Trends, Financial Impacts

 

Fresh data from the School Nutrition Association reveals significant concerns about the financial sustainability of school meal programs. The second installment of a survey effort by the association found COVID-19 closures have had a dramatic impact on school meal program budgets. Financial losses to the school nutrition program ranked as respondents’ top concern, cited by 90 percent as a serious or moderate concern. 861 school districts reported combined estimated financial losses of more than $626.4 million. School meal programs routinely operate on extremely tight budgets, funded by cafeteria sales and reimbursements for meals served. With schools closed and stay at home orders in place, fewer meals are served. The survey yielded responses from school nutrition professionals working on the frontlines to feed hungry students in 1,894 school districts nationwide. Conducted from April 30 – May 8, the survey shows 95 percent of respondents were engaged in emergency meal assistance, and combined, these districts reported serving more than 134 million meals in April alone.