SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Learning from home means kids aren’t eating in the cafeteria and parents are left finding other ways to make meals happen.

School districts and food banks across our area have been providing curbside pickup during the pandemic for that reason, but the need for help may be greater than ever.

“It’s really hard,” Lorraine Hetang, a Natomas grandparent said in regard to distance learning. “I didn’t know how to use the computer with my grandson.”

On top of teaching herself technology, she added feeding her grandkids to her plate each day. Something she said without help, she couldn’t do.

“If they don’t have this food, they’re not going to have anything to eat,” Hetang said.

Hetang takes part in daily curbside pickups at Natomas Park Elementary School, blocks away from her home. It’s part of one district among several where demand has skyrocketed.  Natomas Unified School District, with a population of roughly 15,000 kids, handed out more than 800,000 meals in the summer alone.

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Sacramento City Unified, who has a much bigger population nearing 50,000, said they’ve handed out 2 million meals since March.

“It’s definitely a cycle we want to break,” Melanie Flood with the Sacramento Food Bank said. The issue of food insecurity, she says, is everywhere.

In Sacramento County, Flood said one in five kids don’t have access to food. Half of the community they serve are children. Their recession-era food insecurity statistics still linger today.

“Food insecurities grew exponentially during that time, just like they are during COVID,” Flood said. “Those numbers never went down.”

With food insecurity numbers on the rise, school districts in the area plan to continue their meal programs, even at a distance, to make sure kids don’t go hungry. Anyone in need should contact their local school district to find a pickup spot closest to them.

“It’s important that a kid is well-fed and well-nourished,” Vince Caugin said, who works in Nutrition Services with the Natomas Unified School District.

Moms like Michelle Samora are thankful programs like these exist when times are tough.

“I really appreciate all the help the schools are giving us,” Samora said. “When they’re home, I don’t know why – they’re always hungry.”

The Sacramento Food Bank will also work with families who need the extra help. The staff there say the need may be greater than ever before, and not going away anytime soon. The food bank said anything goes a long way. One dollar can supply five meals for families in our area.