Giving Compass’ Take:
• Code for America has helped streamline and launch an online P-EBT application for families that need funds for school meals for their children during the pandemic.
• How are other tech companies helping respond to the crisis and leveraging their time and talent to do so?
• Here are four ways engineers are using tech to address COVID-19.
Today, there are 30 million kids across the country who receive free and reduced-price meals at school through the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs. That means families are now struggling to provide up to 10 more meals a week, per child, because they are no longer getting them at school. We know about their struggles because Code for America has been focused on serving these families since long before the pandemic hit. Our research team has spent time in living rooms with families who rely on school meals—hearing their stories and learning from their experience. Our design team has spent hours sitting next to public servants, toggling back and forth to make sense of antiquated systems and paper forms. Our data scientists have tested, refined, and tested again how to reach the hardest-to-find kids, who are too often left out of programs they need. This is what we do at Code for America: use research, design, and data to understand and meet people’s needs.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government authorized a new emergency program, Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), to replace school meals with money for groceries while schools are closed. For each state, that meant they had to create, coordinate, plan, and deliver a brand-new benefit in a time of crisis. That is the challenge of today—we need to do things in a new way and on faster timelines. For us, we are fortunate to have built a decade of delivery-driven know-how to reach as many kids as fast as possible. So when our longtime partners at California’s Department of Social Services (CDSS) asked if we could launch an accessible, online P-EBT application, we didn’t hesitate even though we knew the timeline would be tight. In fact, if we could do it, it would be one of the fastest product launches in the 10-year history of Code for America.
Read the full article about accessing free and reduced school meals by Amanda Renteria at Code for America.
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