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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Changes and differences in school food standards (2010–2021) and free school meal provision during COVID-19 across the UK: potential implications for children's diets

AUTHOR(S)
Rebecca Louise McIntyre; Ashley J. Adamson; Michael Nelson (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Nutrition Bulletin
This paper explores changes to school food standards from 2010, free school meal provision during the COVID-19 pandemic across the UK and potential implications for children's diets. To obtain information on UK school food policies and free school meal provision methods  several sources were reviewed, including news articles, policy documents and journal articles. School food is an important part of the UK's health agenda and commitment to improving children's diets. Each UK nation has food-based standards implemented, however, only Scotland and Wales also have nutrient-based standards. School food standards in each nation have been updated in the last decade. Universal free school meals are available for children in the first 3 years of primary school in England and the first 5 years of primary school in Scotland, with plans announced for implementation of free school meals for all primary schoolchildren in Scotland and Wales. There is a lack of consistent monitoring of school food across the UK nations, and a lack of reporting compliance to the standards.
School meal access and changes in meal participation during COVID-19 school closures: a stratified random sample of CalFresh healthy living eligible school districts in California

AUTHOR(S)
Kaela Plank; Sridharshi Hewawitharana; Evan Talmage (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: Preventive Medicine Reports
The National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs are a nutrition safety net for millions of children in the United States, particularly children in households with lower incomes. During Spring 2020 COVID-19 school closures, schools served school meals through the Summer Meal Programs. Despite efforts to increase access, meal participation declined, and food insecurity increased. This study aimed to (1) describe meal program features as communicated in low-income California school districts’ on-line resources (2) examine associations between meal program features and change in meal participation between May 2019 and May 2020 and (3) evaluate equity by describing meal site coverage and placement relative to the size of priority populations.
Weight excess association with severity in children and adolescents with COVID-19: a systematic review

AUTHOR(S)
Mayara Luíza Oliveira da Silva Kist; Gabriela Rupp; Hanzen Andrades (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: Clinical Nutrition ESPEN

Concomitantly to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), in the child population there was already another pandemic wave in progress: childhood obesity. Numerous studies in adults have been carried out and describe obesity as an independent risk and prognostic factor for the severity of COVID-19. This study aims to systematically review the literature on the relation between weight excess and the severity of COVID-19 in children and adolescents. This systematic review was developed following the PRISMA standards (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). The literature search was performed in September 2020, in the following databases: MEDLINE (via PubMed), EmbaseScopus, The Cochrane Library (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)), Web of Science, BVS/LILACS and SciELO.

Mobilizing and delivering essential meals to children and families affected by school closures during COVID-19 and beyond

AUTHOR(S)
Benjamin J. Ryan; Victoria Telford; Mark Brickhouse (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: Journal of School Health

The closure of schools in response to COVID-19 compromised access to essential meals for many students. The Emergency Meals-to-You program, a public/private partnership, was set up to address this challenge. More than 38.7 million meals were delivered between April and August 2020. This study explores lessons learned and identifies strategies for strengthening food access and security at schools and beyond. Qualitative research methods were used. This included interviews and focus groups with participants involved in setting up and delivering the Emergency Meals-to-You program. Data were thematically analyzed using key phrases, ideas, and concepts, and interpreted.

Using social media to promote school nutrition programs during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Anne Whitesell; Hunter Fitch

Published: March 2022   Journal: Journal of School Health

Millions of school-aged children receive free or reduced-price lunches through the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National School Lunch Program; that service was disrupted when public schools closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, this program received little attention on school districts' social media accounts. This research collected Twitter data from 70 Ohio public school districts to construct a measure of attention paid toward school nutrition programs from 2008 to 2021. It also collected district-level data to analyze the relationship between district characteristics and mentions of school nutrition programs.

A generational catastrophe: COVID-19 and children’s access to education and food in South Africa

AUTHOR(S)
Debra Shepherd; Nompumelelo Mohohlwane

Published: December 2021   Journal: Development Southern Africa
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, children have been put at greater risk of school drop-out, as well as food insecurity and emotional health deterioration. This paper considers these issues as they have occurred in South Africa. It uses all waves of the National Income Dynamics Study–Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey to estimate non-return to school, access to school meals, and household well-being. The number of learners not attending school in 2021 is estimated to be close to quadruple pre-pandemic levels. Combined with estimates of learning lost, we can conclude that the pandemic has worn away at two decades of progress made in basic education. Evidence also indicates that school feeding has been slow to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Deepened levels of household hunger combined with a lack of access to free school meals is indicated to contribute to significantly greater levels of caregiver anxiety and psychological distress.
Experiences of increased food insecurity, economic, and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic among SNAP-enrolled food pantry clients

AUTHOR(S)
Robin T. Higashi; Anubha Sood; Ana Belen Conrado (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Public Health Nutrition

The COVID-19 pandemic initially doubled the rates of food insecurity across the USA and tripled rates among households with children. Despite the association among food insecurity, chronic disease and psychological distress, narratives depicting the experiences of already food insecure populations are notably underrepresented in the literature. The current study assessed the impact of COVID-19 on clients of a food pantry who were also enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is a qualitative study probing the effects of the pandemic on daily living, food needs, food buying and food insecurity. Interview transcripts were analysed using a combined deductive and inductive approach. Interviews were conducted via telephone between May and June of 2020 among equal numbers of English- and Spanish-speaking clients (n 40 total).

Pre-pandemic to early-pandemic changes in risk of household food insecurity among Maryland families with children

AUTHOR(S)
Alysse J. Kowalski; Ann Pulling Kuhn; Hannah G. Lane (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Public Health Nutrition

The objective of this study was to examine risk and protective factors associated with pre- to early-pandemic changes in risk of household food insecurity (FI). Families from two statewide studies (2017-2020) in an observational cohort (May-August 2020) were re-enrolled. Caregivers reported on risk of household FI, demographics, pandemic-related hardships, and participation in safety net programs (e.g. CARES stimulus payment, school meals).

Lessons learned for emergency feeding during modifications to 11 school feeding programs in Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Uriyoán Colón-Ramos; Rafael Monge-Rojas; Jael Goldsmith Weil (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Food and Nutrition Bulletin

School feeding programs (SFPs) can play a crucial role in the emergency food and nutrition response, but there is a dearth of information on how SFPs operate during emergencies. A rapid comparative assessment of 11 SFPs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from (1) systematic document search and (2) surveys with key informants (n = 23) about barriers/facilitators to modifications were systematically analyzed using a multiple case study approach.

Changes in accessibility to emergency and community food services during COVID-19 and implications for low income populations in Hamilton, Ontario

AUTHOR(S)
Christopher D. Higgins; Antonio Páez; Gyoorie Kim (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Social Science & Medicine
This paper analyzes the changes in accessibility to emergency and community food services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Hamilton, Ontario. Many of these food services are the last line of support for households facing food insecurity; as such, their relevance cannot be ignored in the midst of the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. This analysis is based on the application of balanced floating catchment areas and concentrates on households with lower incomes (<CAD40,000, approximately the Low Income Cutoff Value for a city of Hamilton's size).
Brief report: feasibility and acceptability of a remote-based nutrition education program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a COVID-19 pilot study

AUTHOR(S)
Riley H. Shurack; Jeanette M. Garcia; Keith Brazendale (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
This paper aims to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a remote-based nutrition education program during COVID-19 for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ten adolescents with ASD participated in a 4-week nutrition education program utilizing Zoom software during COVID-19. Topics included shopping for healthy food, and food preparation safety measures. Attendance was collected for each session. Participants, parents, and the classroom teacher completed post-program surveys and interviews. The course attendance rate was 97%. Every adolescent reported they would participate in similar future programs, and the teacher/parents felt the program was a positive experience for the participants. The remote-based nutrition education program appeared to be feasible and acceptable to participants. Future research should focus on program efficacy.
School feeding amidst a pandemic: preparing for the new normal in Asia and the Pacific
Institution: World Food Programme
Published: August 2021
Prior to COVID-19, close to 129 million children in the Asia and the Pacific region received school meals, primarily through government-led, national school feeding programmes. Due to COVID-19 school closures, many of these children stopped receiving on-site school meals. Although some countries introduced alternative solutions, school-age children are expected to have been negatively affected by this disruption. Against this backdrop, the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBB) commissioned Oxford Policy Management to undertake a review of adaptations to on-site SF in order to inform policymaking and programming in the context of the new reality. This research sought to answer the key research question through an emphasis on gathering data primarily from six countries in the region where WFP supports SF programmes in different capacities: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Effects of COVID-19 imposed school closure on school feeding program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

AUTHOR(S)
Tefera Darge Delbis; Messay Gebremariam Kotecho; Fekadu Mulugeta Asfaw

Published: July 2021   Journal: Social Sciences & Humanities Open
The school feeding program in government schools in Addis Ababa was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study employed a qualitative research to explore the effects of the interruption on students' well-being. The study participants were recruited from seven primary schools within six sub-cities of Addis Ababa using convenience sampling. Fifty-three in-depth interviews were conducted with students, parents, teachers, school principals, and school feeding agency officials. Thematic analysis was then conducted.
School feeding and food and nutrition security in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in the northern region of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

AUTHOR(S)
Ana Eliza Port Lourenço; Naiara Sperandio; Priscila Vieira Pontes (et al.)

Published: June 2021   Journal: Food Ethics
Due to the pandemic and the suspension of in-person school classes, there was an interruption in the meals served to approximately 40 million students who benefited from the Brazilian National School Feeding Program (PNAE). This article describes two case studies, comparing the strategies adopted by two municipalities for maintaining school feeding during the Covid-19 pandemic in the northern region of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and discuss possible impacts of these strategies on food and nutrition security. These municipalities together cover about 81% of the population in the region.
The impact of COVID-19 school closure on child and adolescent health: a rapid systematic review

AUTHOR(S)
Sonia Chaabane; Sathyanarayanan Doraiswamy; Karima Chaabna (et al.)

Published: May 2021   Journal: Children
School closures during pandemics raise important concerns for children and adolescents. Our aim is synthesizing available data on the impact of school closure during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on child and adolescent health globally. We conducted a rapid systematic review by searching PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar for any study published between January and September 2020. We included a total of ten primary studies. COVID-19-related school closure was associated with a significant decline in the number of hospital admissions and pediatric emergency department visits. However, a number of children and adolescents lost access to school-based healthcare services, special services for children with disabilities, and nutrition programs.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.