Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve become particularly aware of the simple, daily blessings that we take for granted, including access to healthy, year-round produce. As we collectively give thanks for what we’re fortunate to have — from a safe home, to a healthy meal, to our ability to care for our families’ wellbeing — we can’t help but think of those in our communities who aren’t so fortunate. Our hearts particularly ache for children who are unable to receive access to free school lunch programs as a result of nationwide school closures.
How Will COVID-19 Affect School Lunch Programs?
Widespread school closures could mean that up to 30 million of our nation’s most vulnerable children will lose access to regular, healthy meals (Hess, 2020). Fortunately, federal funding will continue to cover the cost of school lunch programs; however, many schools simply aren’t equipped to safely distribute the meals. Because these meals — which sometimes also include breakfast — were previously served in group settings at the schools themselves, teachers and administrators now need delivery vehicles, single-serve packaging, increased food storage facilities, and sanitation gear to bring boxed meals directly to their students. All of these items cost money, and not all schools have the funds to purchase them.
After researching ways to help alleviate this heart-breaking and unexpected result of COVID-19, we were grateful to connect with the nonprofit GENYOUth. This national organization recently started a COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund.
With our hands raised, our Herbal Academy team is joining GENYOUth by pledging donations and using our platform to help spread the word! If you also find yourself aching for the wellbeing of our nation’s most vulnerable children, then you, too, can donate at GenYouth.com. Imagine the difference we would make if each of us donated even $10. If you’re able to donate, then take a photo with your hand raised to join us in solidarity for those on the frontlines. Share your photo on social media with the hashtag #ForSchoolsSake to join the national movement, and consider tagging @herbalacademy so we can acknowledge your heart-felt contribution on our social channels.
If you are a teacher or school administrator, then please accept our deepest thanks for the work you do and for the care you extend to our children year-round. You may also be interested to hear about GENYOUth’s grant program, for which schools can apply for up to $3,000 to purchase safe meal delivery supplies.
Other Helpful COVID-Related Nonprofits
Supporting this national school lunch program has helped provide a soothing balm for our worried hearts, but we also acknowledge that there are many other wonderful organizations you can consider if you’re yearning to help from home. Here are a few that have caught our eye, many of which we have also donated to.
Local Food Pantries and Schools
Donating to a nearby food pantry or local school is an excellent way to help fight food insecurity in your town, especially if you have an abundance of canned items or dry, bulk goods. Visit www.FeedingAmerica.org to find a pantry near you. If you’re a gardener or farmer with an abundance of fresh produce, then visit www.AmpleHarvest.org for a list of local pantries that accept homegrown items.
Herbalists Without Borders
Herbalists Without Borders is an international nonprofit that provides natural and herbal support through local chapters. They’re funded entirely by membership fees and donations, and they supply their clinics with products that are either purchased with donation funds or donated by individuals worldwide. You can find a list of the antiviral, immune-supportive dried herbs, tinctures, and other goods that they currently need, here.
Prevent Child Abuse America
Another heart-breaking result of widespread school closures is that more children are now at home with abusive family members. As parents’ anxiety levels rise over financial insecurity, health concerns, and potential food shortages, the chances for abuse and neglect also rise. Prevent Child Abuse America is one of the highest-rated charities for children in the nation. By donating, you’ll directly support their home-visitation program, which provides much-needed services to more than 70,000 families per year.
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
More relevant than ever, this nonprofit is dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases. Donations to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases help fund research and the creation of educational resources, like how to best wash your hands or open mail to prevent the spread of disease.
During these unprecedented times, we’re all at an increased risk of experiencing loneliness and depression. If you have the time and energy to offer heartfelt conversations to strangers, then you may consider downloading the free Quarantine Chat app. After you sign-up and enter your language preferences, the app will periodically call you with the opportunity to connect with someone completely random. The app never shares your phone number, and you can always decline the call if you’re not available. The beauty of this app is that it’s a free way to provide a spark of joy in a stranger’s life — all from the safety and comfort of your own home.
(Because this app involves connecting with strangers, use the same safety precautions you would use when interacting with unknown people on any platform.)
Humane Society of America
Our beloved pets provide a much-needed source of love and comfort during these times. However, for families who have experienced recent job losses or financial insecurity due to COVID-19, paying for their animals’ food and veterinary care can quickly become an unexpected burden. The Human Society accepts donations to help meet pets’ basic needs, and they’ve also created this robust list of national organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners.
If you’re ready for the long-term commitment of a pet, you may also consider fostering or adopting! This good deed has multiple benefits, from providing you and your family with companionship, to supplying the pet with a loving home, to helping the shelter workers stay safe at home.
While it’s easy — and understandable — to get swept up in the fear and anxiety that race alongside this deadly pandemic, it’s also a time when we can collectively shine brighter and spread hope, love, and compassion more than ever before. Whether you’re supporting school lunch programs, singing from your balcony, or simply providing your family (and yourself!) with some much-needed compassion, then you’re already well on your way to carrying the collective torch toward brighter days ahead.
Hess, A. (2020). Widespread school closures mean 30 million kids might go without meals [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/14/widespread-school-closures-mean-30-million-kids-might-go-without-meals.html