Yashuri Del Rosario Rodriguez
Editor’s note: This story was originally filed in April during the spring semester.
(Rock Hill, S.C.) — As South Carolina schools shut their doors last semester and began remote instruction following an executive order from Gov. Henry McMaster, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students lost access to regular meals.
While the school closures, which began March 15, were intended to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, a number of other concerns emerged, including how to feed children facing food insecurity.
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 7.1 percent of U.S. households (or roughly 2.7 million households) had children that were food insecure during 2018.
Feeding America says one in six children (over 178,000 children) struggle with hunger in South Carolina.
As a result, schools throughout South Carolina are working to ensure meals are available to those that need them, despite the pandemic.
Ryan Brown, chief communications officer at the S.C. Department of Education, said there are many different ways food is being made available to students.
“School buses are currently delivering meals and food is also being distributed from strategic community locations. There is also a direct mail service,” said Brown.
“(Rock Hill Schools has) 12 locations where students can pick up breakfast or lunch during certain times of the day,” said Tasha Moffat, a mother of a fourth-grade student at Ebenezer Elementary School.
Those locations were strategically chosen, because they were within walking distance of most students.
For those in need of access to meals and internet access, the district has expanded its community “grab and go” lunches to areas with Wi-Fi hot spots. All of the meals are free of charge.
Juanita Lester, the executive director of Pilgrim’s Inn, said she encourages food insecure households to take advantage of the resources in their community.
“I believe most pantries offer alternatives to anyone without transportation such as delivery support from volunteers and/or an opportunity for another family member or friend to pick up for them,” said Lester, via email,
“With regards to feeding, it is important to do neighborly acts of kindness, knowing where people in communities are, maybe, in need and doing what you can to share and to support,” said Pam Bryant, S.C. Department of Social Services communications director.