Resources for Children & Families to Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

[Last updated April 14, 2020]

Although we are all practicing universal social distancing, we can still laugh, play, learn, and grow closer outside of class and work. As such, it’s important to adhere to local government, department of public health, and CDC guidance in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Refer to the CDC’s main coronavirus website for timely updates regarding this situation.

It’s important for children and their families to eat nutritiously and be physically active. The best place to look first for information on keeping you and your family healthy is the Daily Life & Coping section on CDC.gov, and particularly the section on Caring for Children.

In addition, below are some creative ways to stay healthy from the team at the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HPRC).

Eating healthy

Do you suddenly find yourself at home with your children? It’s important to make healthy food choices for you and your children. Here are some free resources to help families eat more nutritiously:

Food & Fun: Recipe Packet
Fun, inexpensive, and healthy recipes, quick to prepare for both snack & dinner

Food & Fun: Meal Planning
Planning ahead can help you save time at night and spend your money wisely at the grocery store

Food & Fun: Snack Time
Children need healthy snacks between meals to give them energy and nutrients 

The Nutrition Source: Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19
Guidance for how to safely shop, order, and prepare food to minimize transmission of the novel coronavirus

Being physically active

It can be especially difficult to stay physically active as many are being asked to isolate or quarantine, and time spent outside the home must be limited. As such, it can be hard to limit screen time. A key issue for child health is to focus on limiting children’s exposure to advertising on screens. Here are some free resources to help families be more physically active in small spaces:

Food & Fun: Take Control of TV
Taking control of your family’s screen time is one of the most valuable things you can do for your children’s health now and as they grow into adulthood

Action for Healthy Kids: COVID-19 & At-Home Resources
Resources on COVID-19 and staying physically and emotionally healthy at home

SPARKhome: SPARKecademy activities
Free activities for teachers & parents

GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home
Ways for children and families to move and learn together at home

Brain Breaks
Educational shorts for children to engage in during a break

TAKE10
No gym? No field? No equipment? No problem! Fun activities to reduce sedentary behaviors and instill positive health habits

For families

Stay focused on being healthy together as a family. Here are some free resources for families to guide and inform healthier decisions while at home:

Food, Fun & Family
A guide to help busy families develop healthier habits at home

Food & Fun: Parent Handouts in English, Spanish, & Chinese
Handouts for parents on eating healthy, staying active, and taking control of screen time available in English, Spanish, & Chinese

For leaders

It can be challenging to coordinate so many shifting priorities at once, and ensuring adequate nutrition and food security for communities in need can be especially difficult at this time. Here are some resources and suggested guidance for helping children be more food secure:

Feeding Low-Income Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic (NEJM)
Suggested approaches to addressing food insecurity in U.S. children during the COVID-19 pandemic

USDA: Food & Nutrition Service Response to COVID-19
Guidance on how USDA will use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve program participants across their 15 nutrition programs

Food Research & Action Center: COVID-19 Updates
Updates on efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the health, well-being and food security of low-income people

Download this information as a PDF file

 

In addition, below is some useful information for those in Boston, MA to stay healthy.

For the Boston community

For those living in Boston, MA, there is specific guidance and information for families and children to stay safe and healthy. Here are some resources from the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission:

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Boston
Information is rapidly changing — this page will be updated as soon as new and relevant information becomes available for those in the City of Boston

Food Resources in Boston During COVID-19
A resource for residents to find open food locations and delivery options during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Massachusetts Public Health Association: Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity
Rapidly developing policy recommendations to ensure that equity is at the center of the state’s response

Boston Public Schools: Resources for Students & Families
Resources and activities to learn at home during this school closure

Map of Meal Sites for Children and Youth
With Boston Public Schools closed to students starting on Tuesday, March 17, free breakfast and lunch meals will continue to be provided to all Boston students

Boston Public Schools: Taking Care of Your Health
Simple steps to take care of our bodies and our emotions during this time when our lives and routines are changing

Boston Public Schools: Staying Active Outside During COVID-19
Ideas for staying active outdoors, along with resources for helping children stay safe while walking and biking

Download Boston information as a PDF file