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Covering Coronavirus: Soaring Child Hunger and Unmet Needs

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in soaring levels of child hunger and unmet needs in families across the nation. The lives of already economically precarious families have been upended during the pandemic, with school cafeterias shuttered, unemployment shattering records and food bank lines stretching for miles. One recent survey of mothers with young children found that kids weren’t getting enough to eat in one out of five households. While many schools have continued to serve meals through pickup lines or drop-offs, the share of kids receiving them is small. Meanwhile, struggling parents report not having enough money to buy diapers, and difficulty finding groceries covered by federal benefits. Many families are falling behind in rent even as emergency assistance programs are set to expire. In this webinar, we’ll learn what this deepening crisis means for child development and family well-being, as well as what policies might help. We’ll also explore fresh angles for deeper reporting on hunger, food insecurity and other unmet needs in your community.

WHEN: June 3, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT / 1-2 p.m. ET 

REGISTER: [Now closed -- see recording above]


View Megan Smith's slides here.

View Megan Sandel's slides here.



Megan V. Smith is an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and in the Child Study Center in the Yale School of Medicine, and in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Yale School of Public Health. Smith is the founder and director of the Mental Health Outreach for Mothers (MOMS) Partnership, a community-academic partnership to improve maternal mental health among low-income women through a community-driven, place-based approach. She is also the principal investigator of Elevate, a policy lab to elevate mental health and disrupt poverty. She has widely published on the topics of poverty, mental health and gender, and serves as the lead investigator on studies ranging from the epidemiology of depressive and anxiety disorders in the perinatal period to the utilization of mobile health technology to reduce depression in mothers. She received her doctorate from Boston University and holds a master’s degree in public health from the Yale University School of Public Health.

Megan Sandel, M.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine as well as an associate professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. She is the co-director of the GROW clinic at Boston Medical Center, and the former pediatric medical director of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless program, and is a nationally recognized expert on housing and child health. In 1998, she published with other doctors at Boston Medical Center, the DOC4Kids report, a national report on how housing affected child health. In 2001, she became the first medical director of the founding site for medical-legal partnerships, Medical-Legal Partnership-Boston, and from 2007-2016 she served as the medical director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. She has served on a number of national boards, including Enterprise Community Partners, and national advisory committees at American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC Advisory Committee for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.

Webinars are free and made possible by The Commonwealth Fund, the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, and The California Endowment.

Suggested reading:

The COVID-19 crisis has already left too many children hungry in America,” by Lauren Bauer, Brookings

Hunger Program’s Slow Start Leaves Millions of Children Waiting,” by Jason DeParle, The New York Times

‘I Know You’re Angry With Me Right Now Because You’re Hungry’” by Virginia Sole-Smith, The New York Times

Thousands Of Cars Line Up At One Texas Food Bank As Job Losses Hit Hard,” by John Burnett, NPR

Unstable Housing and Caregiver and Child Health in Renter Families,” by Megan Sandel et al., Pediatrics, February 2018

New Haven MOMS Partnership

The Current State of Food Insecurity in America by the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation


The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship will provide $2,000 to $10,000 reporting grants, five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist, and a week of intensive training at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles from July 16-20. Click here for more information and the application form, due May 5.

The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 Symposium on Domestic Violence provides reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity. The next session will be offered virtually on Friday, March 31. Journalists attending the symposium will be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from our Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund. Find more info here!


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