As U.S. schools close to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, many of the more than 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program that provides low-cost or no-cost meals to children on school days, will be left wondering where they'll get their next meal.
Nearly 20 million U.S. households participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal program that helps low-income families put food on their tables. And, a 2014 study on hunger in the U.S. conducted by Feeding America determined that one in seven people depend on the assistance of a food bank for their nutritional needs.
When it comes to hunger in the U.S. it's clear that school closures, missed time from work and other issues related to coronavirus will leave some families hungry and in need of assistance.
As a mom of two young boys and a proud New Yorker, TODAY Parenting Team contributor Krista Rizzo found herself concerned about the more than one million students left without school meals when the coronavirus pandemic caused the New York City public school system to shut down.
Rizzo, who is a life coach and author, posted in her online community, Why Am I Yelling?, asking followers to make a donation toGlobal Empowerment Mission's efforts to provide cash cards for parents who cannot afford to buy their children meals while schools are closed.
"As one of several concerned parents who couldn’t sit by and watch other families suffer during this time of uncertainty, I made the decision to do something about it," Rizzo told TODAY Parents. "COVID-19 is impacting everyone, but some are hit far harder than the vast majority of us."
Shelby Cohen, a food blogger from upstate New York, started a Facebook fundraiser to benefit her local food bank, Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
"I started thinking about how hard-hit our food banks were going to be once hourly employees couldn’t work and kids were home from school," said Cohen, who shares photos of her foodie adventures on Instagram. "I think it’s so important to put more good out into the universe if you’re a person fortunate enough to be able to stock your house and provide for your own family during this crisis"
Dr. Carly Snyder, a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who is partnering with Krista Rizzo in her efforts to raise money for Global Empowerment Mission, agrees.
"It is in times like these, when it feels like the world is falling down around us, that it’s imperative to take stock of all our blessings and give to those who are not as fortunate," said Snyder.
Here are ways to make a donation to help families affected by COVID-19.
Global Empowerment Mission
Global Empowerment Mission is accepting financial donations to provide cash cards to parents who can't afford to buy meals for their children during coronavirus-related school closures, in addition to providing "coronakits" — tote bags with sanitation wipes, gloves, water and other necessities — to people in various cities.
NYC Mamas Give Back
NYC Mamas Give Back, an organization that gives New York moms and kids a chance to help in their communities, is accepting donations which they are forwarding to partner organizations who are providing families in need with hygiene products, cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods and paper products.
Save the Children
Save the Children, in partnership with No Kid Hungry, is collecting financial donations that will "help make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep feeding vulnerable children during the pandemic, as well as provide books, games and other educational materials, along with after school and summer programs, to help kids make up for lost time in the classroom."
Portions of donations made to UNICEF will go to sending supplies and support to children affected by coronavirus.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings, a Chicago-based organization, is collecting supplies and meals for families affected by coronavirus, and has created an Amazon wishlist of supplies needed to carry out their mission.
Donations made to Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund will go to serving communities affected by coronavirus and ensuring food banks are supplied with food for families in need.
Eat. Learn. Play.
Eat. Learn. Play. is collecting monetary donations to feed kids in the Oakland, California school district.
Blessings in a Backpack
Blessings in a Backpack is responding to COVID-19 by feeding kids on weekends during the pandemic and working to provide kids who would otherwise go hungry with weekday meals during school closures.
Like Cohen, many Facebook users are holding fundraisers for their own local food banks and charities who are helping respond to the needs presented by COVID-19 in their area. If you desire to donate more locally, search for fundraisers in your own community or contact a local food bank near you to ask what their individual needs are.
CORRECTION (March 17, 2020, 11:20 a.m. EDT): An earlier version of this story attributed a quote made by Dr. Carly Snyder to Krista Rizzo.