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Think Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a day when all of West Virginia's kids are safe, healthy, and aspire to do great things
Are you hungry? 
Hunger is growing here in West Virginia, and throughout the United States, because of COVID-19. According to Feeding America, from the beginning of March through early May, food banks across our country distributed more than 947 million meals to people facing hunger. In March, food banks distributed 20% more food than in an average month and 40% of individuals showing up at Feeding America food banks across the country were new to food charity.

Our federal and state governments are taking steps to meet the growing needs, but is it enough? The CARES Act included millions in direct support to farmers and in purchase of distribution of food to food banks. Governor Justice has partnered with the United Way to create a state feeding site map. The West Virginia Department of Education has expanded its Summer Food Service Program and received a waiver to participate in the Pandemic EBT Program.  Efforts are underway to address the current crisis, but perhaps not the larger problem-- a distribution infrastructure that heavily relies on volunteers who are older and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

Some experts say that the world has never faced a potential hunger emergency like this. As it unfolds, we're committed to working with federal and state partners to address the health and well-being of those struggling with food insecurity. Here's a list of information and resources to stay connected. 

USDA: WV COVID-19 Waivers & Flexibilities
West Virginia State Feeding Map
West Virginia 2-1-1
WVDE Summer Food Service Program 
FRAC: The Food Research and Action Center

Feeding America
Unicare and Think Kids' Health and Hunger Project
The surveying project 
Part of the Health and Hunger Project includes a 2-minute survey of primary care providers, asking how connected they are to food access sites in their communities. Are you a primary care provider? If so, please take the survey. 
Part of the Health and Hunger Project includes a 3-minute survey of food pantries, asking staff how connected they are to health care providers in their communities. Do you work in a food pantry? If so, please take the survey. 
The summit
Now more than ever, the connections we make between health care and community resources to feed the hungry are critical to keeping West Virginians healthy. Experts warn that the pandemic could cause extreme hunger to  rise. Come join experts from West Virginia's health care and food pantry systems to discuss ways to work together to address these challenges. Registration is free. 

To Register: The Health and Hunger Summit
On our next webinar
Join us on Friday, June 26 at 12pm for our next webinar on how West Virginia is responding to the needs of its kids during the pandemic. We'll discuss COVID-19 and school health-- challenges and recommendations to ensure that students are healthy, have access to health care, and that needed funds are allocated and available to ensure that every student has access to the care they need to attend school. We welcome any ideas for presenters or specific ideas to discuss around this issue. It's a complicated issue; we hope to give space and opportunity for many perspectives and ideas to be shared. 

Zoom Registration Link
Facebook Event Link
Previous Meeting Materials on the Cloud Drive
Senator Manchin introduces bill to help kids and families experiencing homelessness during pandemic

Senators Joe Manchin, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the Emergency Family Stabilization Act last week. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislation creates an emergency funding stream to provide flexible funding for community-based organizations to meet the needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. 

Eligible uses of funds include:

  • Health and safety needs
  • Housing-related needs
  • Transportation assistance
  • Emergency child care
  • Communications and connectivity needs
  • Education, training, and employment-related needs
  • The particular needs of pregnant women and children 0-5
  • Staffing for outreach and case management
  • Services and supports to meet the particular needs of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or trafficking
  • Assistance in accessing Economic Stimulus Payments, unemployment compensation, and other benefits provided by federal, state and local governments
  • The particular needs of unaccompanied homeless youth and young families
Read the full text of S. 3923
Read Kelli's blog post, breaking down how the bill affects WV's kids
Support it? Take action at School House Connection
What we're reading

The West Virginia Department of Education's Outbreak to Recovery Council has created guidelines for county school systems to consider before reopening in the fall. They have a website that will share changing guidance as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves until the coronavirus is eventually eradicated. It's important to remember that while WVDE's Council provides guidance, each county school system has the autonomy to draft and implement its own policies. If you're looking to inform policy in your community's schools, begin locally. 

WVDE's Outbreak to Recovery Advisory Council's website

Kids over the age of 2 are supposed to wear masks in public, but where can you find them? We've heard this often, and by more than just parents. Here's a short list of sites that sell masks for kids. 

27 Great Face Masks Kids Will Actually Want to Wear
Where to Buy Cloth Face Masks for Kids Online Right Now
17 colorful kid-friendly face masks they'll actually want to wear

We're facing a pandemic-driven recession. Inevitably, our public schools are about to take a big hit. Reporter Daarel Burnette II of Education Week shares insights from his school finance coverage and a new database that gauges the economic vulnerability of districts across the country. 

Read or listen: Education Writers Association (EWA) Radio Episode

Ninety percent of US counties with high rates of childhood hunger are rural, a new study finds. Advocates say that mounting food insecurity is an important reminder of the social determinism of health in America—especially as Covid-19 continues to sicken and kill people with preexisting conditions that partly stem from poor nutrition.

Read the article: The Pandemic Has Sent Child Hunger to Record Levels

Race doesn’t put you at higher risk. Racism puts you at higher risk. Public health specialist and physician Camara Phyllis Jones is interviewed in this Scientific American article about ways that jobs, communities and health care leave Black Americans more exposed and less protected. 

Read the article: Why Racism, Not Race, Is a Risk Factor for Dying of COVID-19

What's coming up
Kanawha County friends who work with children affected by the drug crisis. Please join us for our first listening session on Thursday, June 18 to kick off this important project. How can we ensure our most vulnerable kids aren't left behind? Join us at Cafe Appalachia from 4pm to 6pm. Attendance is free, refreshments provide, and please register
Also coming up on Thursday, June 18 at 1pm, join Mission West Virginia for How the Brain and Poverty Impact Teen Pregnancy.  
WIN has two upcoming webinars-- Updates and Tools for Meeting Back To School Immunizations on June 22 at noon and Staying Up to Date During a Pandemic on June 29 at noon. 

This year,  the Handle with Care annual conference has been cancelled, but, there's good news. Starting on August 5, and every Wednesday thereafter, from 3pm to 4:30pm, they will hold weekly webinars of every presentation that would have been offered at the conference-- 45 sessions in all.  Keep an eye on the Handle with Care site for details.
“Thanks for reading The Big Ideas, Think Kids' newsletter. If you have any article ideas, research to highlight, events to share, etc., please let us know. Check out our newest brochure and don't forget to subscribe." - Kelli Caseman, Executive Director 
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