“Stay safe. Stay healthy.”

We’re all hearing—and saying—those words a lot these days. In this brave new world of coronavirus, they’ve assumed deeper significance.

At Voices for Healthy Kids, we are privileged to work with amazing partners and grantees who put those words into action every day. Now they are working even harder in response to coronavirus, and I feel an even stronger connection with them.

There’s a shared recognition of how hard coronavirus is hitting working families, and on multiple fronts—putting parents out of work, cutting homebound kids off from school lunches and formal education, upsetting child care arrangements and elevating stress and worry. Some people can’t simply “stay safe, stay healthy”— they don’t have the option.

We knew these vulnerabilities existed in many communities, but now, in the midst of a national public health crisis, we see how devastating they can be on a whole new scale.

That’s why we put together this list of coronavirus resources. These partners and grantees are on the frontlines of helping families in underrepresented communities navigate new or heightened challenges—connecting families to food, day care services, housing and health care. They’re working harder than ever now.

For example, they are explaining coronavirus to kids, handling school and early care and education center closures and even sharing ideas for spreading kindness during the pandemic. They are providing critical information to communities. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for example, held a national tele-town hall on how coronavirus may impact communities of color; the National Urban and Indian Health Council (NUIHC) is providing updates and information via webinars as well.

But coronavirus also challenges us to do more in the future. School meals, for example, are essential to many families. Despite important improvements over the years in the nutritional value of meals provided at school, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed quality rollbacks that undo those gains and make food option less healthy. But what if communities took matters into their own hands by codifying protections for healthy school meals into their own local and state laws?

Coronavirus throws state preemption laws under a new, harsher light now, too. Many local governments are handcuffed by state preemption laws that prohibit them from making their own ordinances. A number of states forbid municipalities from enacting their own paid sick leave laws, imposing eviction moratoriums and increasing broadband competition so that people in rural areas can get internet service.

But what the pandemic has exposed is that now more than ever, local governments must have flexibility to address the needs of their communities. 

Seattle, for example, is using revenue from its sugary drink tax to fund grocery store vouchers for more than 6,000 families affected by coronavirus.

Preemption can drive inequity and stifle innovation; it’s an area where Voices for Healthy Kids and our partners have been focusing to help strengthen local government choice and control.

We are a country of communities, large and small, that look out for each other, and especially for our children—all of them.

To all of you working so hard to help families and kids, thank you.

Stay safe. And stay healthy.