As Coronavirus continues to hit hard at home and abroad, nonprofits are mobilizing to assess and fill urgent needs. We wanted to help, which is why we donated $25,000 to GENYOUth, a nonprofit supporting the delivery of free school lunches to vulnerable students while classrooms and cafeterias are closed.
The ripple effect of Coronavirus is profound. The elderly, the unemployed, the essential workers risking their lives to provide crucial services; no one has been untouched by its devastating impact.
Among the most severely affected are children enrolled in free and reduced cost school lunch programs. When the pandemic caused classrooms and cafeterias to close, they lost access to a vital nutritional resource. The issue is compounded in communities where financial resources and fresh food options are scarce.
In GENYOUth, Marley Spoon (the parent company that owns Martha & Marley Spoon) found an ally. Its mission—nurturing “healthy, high-achieving school communities”—aligns with our aim to provide healthy, sustainable meals to families.
On March 30, GENYOUth launched the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund, which helps schools continue serving lunches to vulnerable students despite cafeteria and classroom closures resulting from the pandemic.
Marley Spoon’s $25,000 contribution supported this effort by enabling 12 schools to serve meals— lunch and, in some cases, dinner as well—to approximately 700 students per school.
The Fund issues $3,000 grants to schools. This money enables the purchase of necessary supplies, including portable serving containers; cold storage for perishable foods; stipends for additional staffing needs; and sanitation and protective supplies for the school nutrition professionals and bus drivers who are hand delivering the lunches at grab-and-go stations and bus stop drop-off locations throughout the school districts.
According to Eric Slutsky, GENYOUth’s Integrated Communications Director, the fund has issued grants to nearly 1,200 schools. This money has provided 1.7 million meals a day to students who might otherwise go hungry.
But, acknowledges Slutsky, there’s more work to be done. Thirty million American children rely on school lunches for a substantial portion of their daily nutrition.
“Additional funding is crucial,” he says, “to providing schools with the necessary, yet unbudgeted, resources [that will help them] adapt to new means of delivering healthy meals to our nation’s children.”
As of May 1, nearly 9,900 schools had applied for more than $28 million in relief from GENYOUth’s COVID-19 Fund.
Grants are issued based on their potential for large-scale positive impact. Consideration factors include the percentage of students at the applicant school who receive free or reduced cost meals; the number of students enrolled at the school; and the number of meals served at the school each week.
Assistance from businesses like Marley Spoon helps address food insecurity and hunger in school communities.
The volume of applicant schools, however, has overwhelmed the initial $5 million GENYOUth raised, and additional financial support is vital to meeting this growing need. Narrowing the gap between funds raised and funds requested by schools will enable more schools to obtain the equipment they need to serve nutritious meals outside of the school building.
“We are all in this together,” notes Slutsky, “and every dollar makes a difference, whether from [businesses like Marley Spoon], foundations, or individuals.”
To donate to GENYOUth’s COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund, go to www.genyouthnow.org/donate or text SCHOOLS to 20222 to make a $15 contribution.