Despite the learning environment looking very different this fall, experts predict schools will remain a critical lifeline for many students and families who rely on school meal programs and other daily essentials. To provide some much-needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, Frito-Lay has partnered with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to launch the “Building the Future Together” initiative supporting thousands of students across the U.S. The program will provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities. Its estimated students will engage with the program and receive needed items over 100,000 times throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
With food insecurity on the rise, as many as one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children. In addition, this summer was the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic1.
“As a food company, we have an opportunity to serve a greater good and work to support children having access to the food and resources they need,” said Steven Williams, CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America. “With the ‘Building the Future Together’ program, we’ve pivoted our longstanding community giving efforts to provide a level of food security for thousands of disadvantaged students. While a lot of uncertainty remains, we will do our part to support students and families in underserved communities no matter how schools operate this year.”
Nearly eight in 10 students attending schools participating in the “Building the Future Together” program qualify for free meals, according to Public School Review. Schools in underserved communities across Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando and Phoenix will benefit from the program, which builds on an innovative program that Frito-Lay and Feed the Children implemented at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas in the 2019-2020 school year.
“We believe that no child should go to bed hungry, especially during this unsettling time around COVID-19,” said Travis Arnold, president and CEO of Feed the Children. “We understand that many are facing unexpected challenges and we are working diligently with our partners such as Frito-Lay and the ‘Building the Future Together’ program to ensure that as needs rise, students continue to receive the food and supplies they need.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, PepsiCo, including Frito-Lay and other PepsiCo business units, have committed more than $60 million to COVID-19 relief, which has provided 57 million meals to help feed communities in need, medical and economic aid, jobs creation and more. In addition, Frito-Lay has donated more than $16 million in product to more than 90 organizations in nearly 90 cities across the U.S.