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NEPTUNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic is causing a growing hunger crisis among children.

In New Jersey alone, hundreds of thousands of kids are not getting enough to eat, and it’s showing in the classroom, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Monday.


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At Fulfill’s food distribution site in Neptune, workers hear and see heartbreaking stories of hunger every day.

But a recent confession from a little girl child stuck with CEO Kim Guadagno.

“A teacher had just reported that a 9-year-old little girl had burst into tears in her classroom. Now remember, when I say classroom, these are virtual classrooms, in front of the whole class, saying she was starving to death and could we help.”

It turns out the little girl’s entire family was starving.

READ MORE: COVID Impact On Children: Experts Say It’s Important For Parents To Validate Their Kids’ Feelings, Impose Daily Routines

Her mother told the school’s social worker that she has been out of work since the pandemic hit last March.

Food insecurity among children statewide has increased 75% since then.

“That’s 400,000 children or 1 in 5 in the entire state that is at risk of not having food,” said Carlos Rodriguez, the president of Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Mental Health: As Parents’ Fears Rise, Expert Offers Coping Strategies For Children

Rodriguez said families often don’t know where to seek help or are too ashamed.

For immediate assistance, he recommends families find the nearest pantry by logging on to

Another program parents can apply for is called Pandemic EBT.

“Any child that was receiving free or reduced school meals can be eligible for this benefit. It really does give parents more flexibility at home for their children,” Rodriguez said.


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Back in Monmouth County, volunteers at Fulfill said the 9-year-old girl’s family is now overwhelmed with community donations.

“Offers of jobs, offers of connecting people to jobs, offers of six months’ worth of groceries for the family,” Guadagno said.

READ MORE: Pandemic Has More Families Finding Themselves In Need Of Food For The First Time

She said in this time of national emergency, it’s important to help each other, but more importantly to not be afraid to ask for help.

The New Jersey Department of Education says that schools participating in the school lunch and breakfast programs also have an obligation to offer meals to students during virtual instruction.

CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report

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COVID In Philadelphia: City Public School Teachers Begin Receiving Vaccines As District Works On Return To Classroom

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — COVID-19 vaccinations are underway for Philadelphia public school teachers. The district says it’s another layer of safety as they reopen schools.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has begun the process of vaccinating school district teachers and staff members.

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“Yesterday, 500 people throughout the course of the day and we’re on track to vaccinate 500 more today,” said Dr. Ron Karen of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The vaccination plan will be rolled out in three phases beginning with teachers and staff already in classroom settings, pre-k to second-grade teachers heading back to the classroom, then phasing in the remaining teachers who want to get the vaccine.

“Getting vaccinated is a personal choice, yet we’re hopeful as many members of our staff as possible will take advantage of this opportunity as we believe the science that supports vaccinations as another layer of safety,” Superintendent Dr. William Hite said.

The Philadelphia School District is moving ahead with plans to bring pre-k to second-grade students into hybrid learning beginning on March 1.

READ MORE: Pennsylvania Hospital Doctor Stabbed Multiple Times In Face, Head By Patient, Philadelphia Police Say

The return has been delayed several times due to teachers citing safety concerns inside school buildings. A mediator is now facilitating a safe reopening plan that both sides can agree on.

“This is a fluid process, so the more important thing is that we are still engaged in these conversations and looking for ways to solve this problem,” Dr. Hite said.

The vaccination process is adding one more layer of safety with six school sites that will be added as inoculation centers next week.

Children’s Hospital will be in charge of vaccinations at those locations, with thousands of teachers and staff from public, parochial and charter schools are expected to be vaccinated per day in the coming weeks.

“We’ve invited 25,000 teachers to sign up for vaccine appointment and we’re going to invite about another 10,000. By week two, we’ll have the capacity to immunize 9,000 employees a week,” said Dr. Karen.

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Vaccinations will be by appointment only and rapid tests will be provided for in-school use.

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