Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Nutrition Knights School Food Pantries Provide Solution to Growing Child Hunger.
Long Beach, California – Help Me Help You (HMHY) launches Nutrition Knights program to help combat growing cases of child hunger by providing and encouraging access to free healthy groceries in Long Beach school locations. With the economic fallout from the COVID pandemic as well as school closures; the ability to access food has dramatically decreased for many children and their families.
Food insecurity is growing rapidly among children in the U.S. Prior to the COVID pandemic 1 in 7 children were already living in households suffering from food insecurity, and today numbers are estimated to have increased to1in 4. COVID related school closures and the increase in the “stay safe and stay home” mandated option for home-schooling, has meant that many children who were receiving free school lunches through the State Food Program cannot access these meals. Although the Los Angeles Unified School District has set up “Grab-and-Go” sites, there are only roughly 64 sites for 1,000 schools.
Child Food Insecurity has a domino effect on the overall well-being of children and their families. According to Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), food insecurity is associated with poor health status, developmental risks, mental health problems and poor educational outcomes. Many families may not even recognize it is affecting them as it can present as food anxiety, diet monotony, decreased nutrition and inadequate food intake. In fact, many who have become recently unemployed may not be aware or feel entitled to these free, preventing them from accessing food pantries for their family.
With the aim to generate awareness and entice the use of school food pantries, HMHY has created a program called Nutrition Knights. The program aims to make school food pantries user friendly while appealing to children and their parents with a knight in shining armor mascot, advocating nutritious food choices and a tagline of “Groceries to Save The Day”. HMHY Nutrition Knights school food pantries operate twice a week between Cesar Chavez, Stevenson, and Oropeza Elementary schools. The free nutritious groceries offered include a variety of meats/proteins, milks, carbohydrates, cereals, breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, ethnic foods and more. “By creating the Nutrition Knights School Food Pantry program, it is our goal to encourage more families to access healthy foods and ensure
no-one in Long Beach suffers from food insecurity. We also aim to expand our services with more Long Beach school food pantry locations as there is definitely a community need for it”, said Zina Washington, HMHY Executive Director.
HMHY Benefits Advocates also assist eligible families with CalFresh enrollment to receive funds via an EBT card to purchase groceries at participating grocery stores and farmers markets. For information on Nutrition Knights school food pantries and community food pantry locations visit helpmehelpu.org/food-pantry. To support these services and help feed children in Long Beach, make a donation at helpmehelpu.org/donate-now. If you would like a food pantry at your child’s school or if you think the school may be interested in hosting a food pantry, please contact Zina on 562-612-5001.
Founded in 2004, Help Me Help You is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, dedicated to uplifting the lives of homeless and low-income residents by increasing access to food, public benefits, economic security, affordable housing as well as providing Social Security Benefits claims assistance to the public.