Initially, Meals to You aimed to deliver nearly 1 million meals per week to students eligible for free and reduced-price meals in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. But that goal has been quickly surpassed. Meals to You has already shipped nearly 3.5 million meals to the homes of children in 12 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Today, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a major expansion of Meals to You, USDA’s innovative partnership with the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo, to feed low-income kids in rural areas. The initiative will now serve nearly 5 million meals per week to rural children impacted by COVID-19-related school closures – five times its original goal.
“Uncertain and difficult times call for unprecedented actions and big picture ideas. Rural children affected by school closures faced food insecurity, but these great American groups and companies stepped up to help their fellow countrymen by delivering boxes of food across the country,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “This program has been so successful and faced such high demand that we are expanding to five million meals a week. Our partnership to feed kids embodies President Trump’s whole of America approach to tackling the coronavirus by utilizing the best of America – private sector ingenuity with public sector backing.”
“We are grateful to be a part of an innovative team made up of both the public and private sectors motivated by the strong desire to help our neighbors in need. We hope that the boxes of food will nourish children and communicate to their families that they are not in this tough circumstance alone,” said Jeremy Everett, Executive Director, Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.
“This USDA-funded program has been a lifeline to thousands of students across rural America that would otherwise go hungry during this challenging period,” said Denton McLane, Chairman of McLane Global. “We’ve shifted to a 24-hour production schedule across all locations to meet the demand, and couldn’t be prouder of our partners, employees and the people on the ground working to ensure these meals get to those who need it most.”
“We’re proud to partner with the USDA and Baylor to deliver meals directly to students who need them now more than ever,” said Matt Smith, Senior Director of Food for Good at PepsiCo. “Since 2009, we’ve been operating a U.S. nutrition program within PepsiCo called Food for Good that has delivered more than 30 million nutritious meals to children through afterschool and summer programs. In this time when millions of children are affected by school closures, it is a privilege to bring our scale and experience to this innovative partnership to serve our neighbors in need nationwide.”