The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. sent a letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to express concern about the lack of school meals and educational instruction provided to schoolchildren since schools closed on March 13, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These failures have a disproportionate impact on Black schoolchildren, many of whom rely on school meals for their daily nutrition and do not have access to online resources. The letter urges Governor Edwards to require all school districts to provide meals and distance learning that is reasonably accessible, especially to the most vulnerable students.
“We call upon Governor Edwards to take immediate action to ensure that no child in Louisiana is deprived of food or an education,” said LDF Senior Counsel Michaele N. Turnage Young. “Even in the midst of unprecedented challenges, we must ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow and learn. The strains of this pandemic are felt by everyone, but most especially by disadvantaged children that now, more than ever, face economic and educational insecurity.”
For many children, school breakfasts and lunches are the only meals they can reliably expect to eat each weekday. Yet, since the schools have closed, access to school meals has been uneven. Some children do not have access to meals at all, while others cannot sign up remotely for meal delivery due to a lack of internet access, and others must walk more than an hour to retrieve a meal from pick-up site that may be open for as little as 90 minutes.
Nearly half of Louisiana school districts have yet to offer any distance learning at all even though the pandemic may cause students to miss nearly a quarter of the school year. Where distance learning is offered, it is often inaccessible to children who do not have internet service.
LDF represents thousands of Black schoolchildren and their parents in school desegregation cases across Louisiana. For decades, such families have taken the lead in advancing solutions that will improve conditions for all. LDF’s letter offers recommendations for overcoming today’s unprecedented challenges and asks Governor Edwards to implement them.
Read the full letter here.