I work at a Title I school which means that over half of our students qualify for free or reduced meals. On school days this means these students generally eat breakfast and lunch at school. Through community support the school also sends food home with the students on Fridays for the weekend.
We have been out of school for over a week so far due to the snow storm that came through. Without school, our students don’t have access to this food. This morning an email went out with a game plan to collect donations, shop, pack, and distribute food. I decided that it would be awesome to help our students while also teaching my own kids at the same time.
I don’t think that I’ve ever talked to my kids about “food insecurity” or the programs that are offered in our county to help families in need. This offered me an opportunity to give them some insight into our community that they didn’t previously have. Parker’s first question was, “If they don’t eat at school, do they just not eat?”
After a quick text out to family for additional monetary contributions and a budget in mind, Parker and I headed out to BJ’s to stock up. The second lesson that came from this experience was that it is challenging to shop for non-perishable foods that have decent nutritional value. We looked at labels and tried to buy a variety of foods that would be pleasing to a kid’s palate and yet not completely sodium saturated. My instructions to her were that I wasn’t going to buy anything that I wouldn’t feed my own family.
We loaded up the back of the Subaru and dropped everything off at school. There were many hands that unloaded the car within minutes. As we drove away feeling like we had had a productive afternoon, we also laughed. The few things that we had picked up from BJ’s to have at our house had been scooped out of the car along with our donations. Both of us saw it happen but neither one of us wanted to say anything.
Today was a good day.
PS The kids have done volunteer work around hunger before but this was the first time that it was at so personal a level for them. Hunger doesn’t just exist in other places. It is right here in our backyard. Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, and we have so many families struggling. We have 44 elementary schools receiving Title I funding. 44 schools out of 196. In one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Mind boggling.