A Mississippi-based educator is on a mission to address food insecurity among his students amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to People, Jaleel King—who teaches at Goodman-Pickens Elementary School—delivers meals to his students in between instructing online courses.
King’s effort is a part of a larger initiative being led by the Holmes County Consolidated School District. Cognizant of the fact that many students are living in poverty and heavily rely on school meals, the district wanted to ensure school closures didn’t prevent them from having access to food. Through the initiative, the district delivers nearly 6,000 meals daily. School buses are used to deliver the meals.
King—a 27-year-old fifth-grade math teacher—delivers breakfast and lunch to his students Monday through Friday. “In some cases, these meals may be the only food these kids will get throughout the day,” he told the news outlet. “I just enjoy seeing their faces and helping out.” Many of the students’ families are dealing with financial burdens stemming from job loss while others live in food deserts; limiting the accessibility to affordable and healthy food options. King added that delivering the meals has allowed him to foster stronger connections with the families of his students and he is sure there will be an increase in parental and community involvement during the new school year.
Food insecurity is an issue that has been exacerbated due to the public health crisis. According to Brookings, a survey revealed that 34.5 percent of households with children under the age of 18 were food secure as of April 2020. Many food banks throughout the country are shuttering because they don’t have the bandwidth to meet the high demands related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The New York City Mission Society reported nearly a third of food banks in the U.S. closed over the span of a few weeks due to the lack of supplies and resources.