U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue lauded the achievement of its “Meals to You” partnership, which has now delivered more than 28.5 million meals to the doorsteps of low-income kids in rural communities across America during the CoViD-19 health crisis. Perdue announced the milestone during a visit today to McLane Global, one of USDA’s partners in the initiative, which has served kids across 41 states and 2 U.S. territories.
“”Meals to You” is a prime example of USDA’s commitment to ‘do right and feed everyone,’ while leveraging private sector ingenuity with public sector funding. At the beginning of this public health emergency, President Trump made it clear we would only overcome these trying times if we came together as one America. These folks feeding kids in need here in Texas and across the country rose to the challenge,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have heard from families across America who have told us that in these difficult times, the program has been a home run for feeding hungry kids. We are grateful to our partners for helping make that a reality.”
“We wanted to give you a big thank you in behalf of our family for this assistance,” shared a Texan family participating in the program. “Knowing that our child has options to eat different items that are healthy makes us very happy! With gratitude I write you this letter during this hard time that all of us are going through. It is good to know that you all are out there. Please stay safe and know you are making a difference in people’s lives.”
“It has been humbling to see the impact that CoViD-19 has had on all of our lives. We are grateful that we could take part in the USDA’s Meals-To-You program and be part of the response to this crisis. This program would not have been possible without everyone involved in the partnership and our dedicated McLane Global employees, working tirelessly to feed so many children in need across the country. Thanks to the hard work of so many, we have ensured children in rural areas have access to nutritious meals during this difficult time. This is what we can accomplish when government and private business come together in the fight against hunger,” said Denton McLane, Chairman of McLane Global.
“We are honored to be part of this innovative partnership providing meals to families in need,” said Kathy Krey, Ph.D., director of research and administration of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “By working together in new ways and evaluating the challenges and successes of the “Meals to You” program we are learning how best to solve complex problems both now and in the future.”
“For more than a decade, PepsiCo’s Food for Good program has made nutritious food more accessible to those in need, especially in times of crisis,” said Matt Smith, Senior Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good. “CoViD-19 has challenged all of us to expand our operations and partnerships to reach millions of American families who need support, and the “Meals to You” partnership is a testament to that. Our Food for Good team is committed to fighting childhood hunger and it is a privilege to serve nutritious meals to our neighbors all across the country.”
“As a child nutrition partner to thousands of schools across the country, we see first-hand the impact this crisis is having on children nationwide,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “The “Meals To You” program reaches communities that need it most right now, so it’s a privilege to be a part of such an innovative partnership to ensure no child goes hungry during this challenging time.”
“Meals to You” is an innovative public-private partnership between USDA, the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo. It began as a summer pilot project in 2019 but has been successfully leveraged as emergency Meals to You to address pandemic-related nutrition needs in rural areas.
Initially, “Meals to You” aimed to serve one million meals to children in rural areas. Due to unprecedented need, high requests to participate, and the commitment of USDA and its partners, the initiative rapidly expanded. As of July 11, 2020, 28,565,460 meals have been delivered to 268,277 children across the U.S.
“Meals to You” boxes are delivered directly to children’s homes via the U.S. Postal Service or another delivery service. Each box contains 20 nutritious, shelf-stable meals including 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches/suppers. In participating states, families with students who attend an eligible school or are eligible for free or reduced-price meals may opt-in to receive one box per child every two weeks.
Continued feedback received from families participating in emergency “Meals to You” underlines the initiative’s ongoing importance. For example, a father from Louisiana stated, “You have been a true blessing and the food is going a long way towards my family’s wellbeing. Please know you have allowed me to have peace knowing my children will eat…” A mother from Arkansas shared, “I want to say thank you from a momma’s heart, I just cried and cried. My children were so excited. I cannot express my gratitude and my heart for this blessing for my children. This is a blessing for all the children.”
Meals to You is just one of a broad range of actions USDA has taken to ensure children are fed during the CoViD-19 health crisis. FNS has issued more than 35 nationwide waivers in its child nutrition programs to make it as easy as possible for children to continue to receive meals during the pandemic. USDA also recently announced several nationwide waivers that extend throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year to allow states and program operators to plan for the fall and beyond. To learn more about FNS’s response to CoViD-19, visit here and follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.