Addressing Food Insecurity during COVID

by Celeste Corcoran, MD (faculty), Taka Yamaguchi, MD (’21), & Aaron Brug, MD (’22)

Grab n’ Go Meals: Schools, community centers etc. distributing prepared breakfast, lunch, dinner similar to
school meals. Search sites by city/town

  • Most sites are open to all families. Sites limiting distribution to school/district are labeled accordingly (*).
  • Meals are for kids 18 or younger
    • If there is a school age child in the family, younger children can get meals as well
  • Families can drive up or walk up
    • Any trusted adult can go with the kid as long as they have the student’s ID number/”lunch number”
  • Most sites are allowing families to pick up 3-4 days of meals at once (12-16 meals per pick up).
    • Email Celeste Corcoran the following information:
      • Name of child, name of adult, # of kids in home, preferred language, phone #
  • Participation has been low (15%) so please spread the word!

Pandemic-EBT: Rapid rollout of emergency money for children’s food using the EBT system

  • Families get $5.70 per day of school canceled Mar-Apr. That’s $193.80 per child.
  • Households where DHS was able to match their child’s name to a current SNAP case will receive the benefit on their current EBT card on Monday, April 20.
  • Children in non-SNAP households who receive free or reduced price meals (all kids in Providence, many but not all in Pawtucket and Central Falls) will receive a new card by May 1.
    • Additional benefits will be added to the same EBT card if school closures continue
  • P-EBT benefits may be used by all households receiving a card to purchase food for their family.
  • It does NOT impact public charge. No risk to immigrant families, regardless of status–no records.

RI Food Bank/Food Assistance Providers: food charitable organizations such as food pantries, meal services

  • Sites have been impacted differently by the crisis (fewer volunteers, changes in donations) so while the PDF on the website is being updated daily, families should contact each site prior to visiting.
    • Families are handed boxes, don’t shop like they normally would
  • USDA CFAP grant
    • “Veggie boxes” — large 14 lbs box of produce, eggs, dairy from local farmers and food producers
    • Distributed at some food pantries with refrigerating capacity
  • Families can call United Way at 2-1-1 for further assistance navigating food banks

Grocery Delivery: Services like Amazon, Walmart, Peapod, Instacart, Imperfect Foods, Source Whats Good

  • Currently NO standard delivery services accept EBT.
    • This is due to point-of-sale payment requirements unique to EBT compared to credit cards.
  • USDA approved Rhode Island’s application for EBT to be used online. This is not yet available.
    • Will take more time to implement and will be limited to Walmart, Price-rite, Amazon (Whole Foods)

Farm Fresh RI: Farmers market organization, expanding online ordering, delivery

  • Already has discounts/double credit for EBT customers using mobile point-of-sale devices.
  • Now expanding EBT payment capability for farmers and local food producers to deliver produce and food.

Coming soon:

  • Brown University Dining Services is donating 10 huge bags of produce, meat, and homemade bread every week. Possibility of delivery. Refer families to C4H coordinator Hilda Castillo
  • Clinic: Ready-to-eat, shelf-stable meals for providers to offer to patients and families in acute insecurity
  • And more…