During the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Heart Association has teamed up with Philabundance, a food bank in Philadelphia, to meet the needs of students who require additional support. Since the pandemic has forced students out of the school environment, many are struggling with nutrition insecurity – a significant hardship for those who typically rely on free school meals. To mitigate the hunger gap, the AHA and Philabundance have provided free lunches to students from two North Philadelphia High School locations Vaux and El Centro. North Philadelphia remains one of Philadelphia’s most under-resourced communities.
Originally planned for distribution from these two high school locations, organizers quickly pivoted when Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Safer at Home restrictions were put into place in late November. Meals have shifted from fresh to frozen to preserve shelf life, and will still adhere to Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) nutrition standards which align with AHA’s nutrition guidelines. A team of Resilience Specialists are conducting outreach to identify families to participate in the meal distribution, and lunches will be available for pick up OR delivery. Through this program, an anticipated 3,600 meals will be distributed to students this academic year.