A startling 32% of school-age kids in Orange County participate in the National School Lunch Program. This suggests nearly 1 in 3 local children are at risk for hunger when school meals are not available and have limited access to fresh food at home because of expense and access issues.
While food insecurity is a consistent concern, needs have escalated due to COVID-19. Schools closed in March, leaving children without the free and reduced meals they received on a daily basis and for some, these meals were the only nutritious food they could depend on.
Adding to the situation, some parents have seen their incomes reduced due to decreased work hours, or worse, have seen it disappear completely due to unexpected business closures and layoffs. TABLE, a nonprofit organization that provides healthy, emergency food aid and nutrition education to children living in Orange County, knows some families don’t have the financial cushion to take these hits. Prior to COVID-19, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that nationwide households in the lowest income bracket spent 35% of their income on food compared to 8% for the highest income bracket.
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