Increase food Access for Kids. End lunch shaming.
Picture yourself: You’re six years old, sitting in kindergarten, learning to read while suffering from a hunger-induced stomachache. Or you’re 16, trying and failing to keep up with calculus because you haven’t eaten all day, or longer. This is a reality for too many local students. Hungry kids struggle to learn, pay attention and thrive.
You’d think schools would be highly sensitive to the plight of hungry students, but recent coverage of shaming children for unpaid breakfast and lunch bills highlights a need to compassionately address poverty and hunger in our schools.
No kid should have to worry about where breakfast is coming from or how to pay for it. Local father Jeff Lew thought so, and took action by raising money to erase the Seattle school lunch debt. It’s amazing what one everyday hero can do, and schools have the ability to do even more. Good news: it’s easy!
Our Fuel Your Future Program is in schools, increasing access to nutritious food. AmeriCorps VISTA cohorts work with administrators to ensure students grab breakfast before instruction even starts. It gives students and families tools to make healthy food choices.
We know that serving breakfast after the bell and providing free breakfast to all students has a powerful, positive impact on students and the bottom line of school meal budgets. We teamed up with the No Kid Hungry Campaign, Hunger Is, AmeriCorps, and the Seattle Sounders to make this a reality for 10 local schools.
Let’s do more of this.
We have a target list of dozens of schools that could benefit from collaborating to improve breakfast participation. Schools like Mark Twain Elementary in the Federal Way School District, Kent Elementary, Hilltop Elementary in Highline, and Asa Mercer Middle School in Seattle. As schools plan for the 2017-18 school year, we urge them to team up with United Way to Fuel Our Future.