Since March 2020, countries around the world have closed schools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Allowing children to return to school safely is now a top priority for governments everywhere. Unfortunately, many schools in areas with high infection rates remain closed, and even in schools that have opened, student attendance has been inconsistent. Beyond the impact on learning and social interaction, one less obvious consequence of school closure is the double impact on childrens’ nutrition. On one hand, rates of overweight and obesity may increase because students do not have as many opportunities to be physically active. Also, many students are replacing regular healthy meals with all-day snacking. On the other hand, children who depend on free or reduced-price school meals may no longer have access to healthy diets. In one study in the US, researchers estimated that between March and May, 2020, students who had received free and reduced-price meals prior to COVID missed more than a billion school breakfasts and lunches because of school closures. As a result, it is important for all of us to help ensure that children are physically active and eat better quality food, even when they cannot go to school.


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