Families may experience food shortages during an emergency or natural disaster. Head Start and Early Head Start family services staff and home visitors can partner with you to:
- Access food assistance
- Track your progress and celebrate your successes
Spotlight On: Food Assistance
Access Food Assistance
Your family services staff or home visitor can give you information about different types of food assistance programs. They can help you determine your eligibility and help you apply.
- WIC and SNAP. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you meet your food needs.
- The federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is approving states to provide increased benefits to SNAP households that normally receive less than the maximum benefit, to address temporary food needs.
- Use the WIC State Waivers and the SNAP State Waivers online search tools to learn about waivers in your state to address temporary family food needs.
- Learn more about WIC and SNAP, and how to apply for benefits, on the FSN website.
- Food banks. Use the Find Your Local Food Bank online tool to locate food banks and meal distribution programs in your community.
- National Hunger Hotline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Hunger Hotline provides information about meal sites, food banks, and other local social services across the country.
- English: 866-3-HUNGRY (866-348-6479) (toll-free)
- Spanish: 877-8-HAMBRE (877-842-6273) (toll-free)
- Food shopping tools. The USDA has online tools to help families set budgets for healthy meals, plan meals, and read food labels. You can find the tools on ChooseMyPlate.gov.
- Food assistance for families with school-aged children. The USDA is coordinating several efforts that may apply to older siblings of children in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
- The Meals-to-You program provides families in rural school districts with boxes that contain 20 nutritious meals — 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches — for children who would normally receive breakfast and lunch at school over two weeks. Contact your school district to see if it is participating in this program.
- Use the Meals for Kids Site Finder online tool to find free meals for your school-aged children. This website has information on nearby school meal distribution sites, as well as hours of operation and contact information. The service is available in English and Spanish.
- The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program gives some households with school-aged children an EBT card that families can use to buy food. The P-EBT card has the value of the free breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days schools are closed. Schools must close for at least five consecutive days for families to receive a P-EBT card. For your family to be eligible, your children must receive free or reduced-price school meals and attend schools that offer free school meals. You can learn more on the FSN website.
Track Your Progress and Celebrate Your Successes
Family services staff and home visitors can follow up with you about your progress toward accessing food assistance. Celebrate your successes!
« Go to How Head Start Can Help You During Emergencies—Tips for Parents
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: February 18, 2022