Who’s Hungry?

Did you know that nearly one in ten Minnesotans live in food insecure homes (Second Harvest, 2015)? That means every single member of the Junior League of Minneapolis (JLM) knows someone; whether it be a cousin, a neighbor, or a friend who lives with food insecurities. We know that hunger adversely affects our communities in many ways from an increased burden on our health care system to ill equipped work force. But how does hunger affect the education gap?
Personally, I could write and tell you all about hunger and the negative correlations in education, but the writer Steve Holt at Take Part wrote a wonderful article on the subject that provides insight into this issue and its impacts. To read the full article find the link below:
http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/09/11/going-back-school-hungry

Children’s Health Watch put together an easy to read fact sheet that provides a very straight forward view of the issue. This approach is appealing to me as it gives the reader the facts even if it’s unpleasant. To read the full report find the link below:
http://www.childrenshealthwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/toohungrytolearn_report.pdf

The Junior League of Minneapolis (JLM) has focused their efforts on tackling the achievement gap in the Minneapolis area. So how are we doing it? One of our major programs is called Backpack Buddies. Founded in 2008, Backpack Buddies set out to reduce the effects of hunger by providing easy to prepare food to cover the needs of children residing in food insecure homes. Currently, the Backpack Buddies project sends out 800 backpacks per week across three different schools. That ends up being 15,000 pounds of food per month. The number are staggering. The even crazier thing is there is always more to be done.

To get more involved Junior League members can sign up for an unpacking/packing shift or donate to the Annual Fund. Community members can get involved by donating non-perishable food items to a local food shelf or signing up for a volunteer shift at Second Harvest or similar non-profits.

Advertisements

Feeding Hungry Students: One New Mexico Teacher Making a Difference

The day’s lesson isn’t the first thing on Marvin Callahan’s mind after the first school bell rings. Instead, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, teacher wonders whether his students have eaten. His routine begins by asking each one of his first-grade pupils what her or she ate for breakfast that morning.

“I have kids that come to school every day and they’re hungry,” Callahan said. “They can’t come in here and be at their best.”

Every day, the 20-year veteran teacher spends a chunk of his own salary to feed hungry kids in his classroom. For the kid who came to school on an empty stomach, Callahan either sends the child to the cafeteria or simply walks over to the supply closet behind his desk for some food. Many teachers at Comanche Elementary School use their own cash to buy supplemental food for their hungry students. More than 60 percent of the kids at Comanche qualify for the federal free or reduced-priced lunch program.

Callahan said that the school lunch is the last meal of the day for many students. He began to think about what his kids were facing after Friday’s dismissal bell. So Callahan and the school counselor, Karin Medina, started a backpack program for the Comanche students who need the most help on the weekend. Every Friday, kids from 25 families get meals and two snacks to take home, enough to fight their hunger pangs until Monday arrives.

The Comanche backpack program is not an official nonprofit, nor does it have any outside funding. The program doesn’t even have a name. However, even without a name, it serves as an example of community generosity, which has others aiding it. A local business brings by boxes of food weekly, and a Boy Scout troop has donated money twice this year.

Teachers feeding their students isn’t uncommon in our nation’s schools. In fact, 73 percent of teachers have hungry students in their classes, according to a report issued in 2013 by the advocacy group No Kid Hungry.

(Taken from a collection of articles and interviews from the fall of 2014. Google Marvin Callahan for more information.)

Post contributed by Kristy Barnett.

CDF’s The State of America’s Children 2014 Report Published

Children’s Defense Fund published a new report, The State of Americas Children 2014, which provides a comprehensive analysis of national and state data on population, poverty, family structure, family income, health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence.

The report suggests that the number of homeless children enrolled in public schools in the state of Minnesota increased by 97% between the 2006 and 2012.

The study also shows that students who live in poverty fare far worse in the public school system than those from higher income families.

Approximately 75% of lower income fourth and eighth grade Minnesota public school students performed below their grade level in math and reading in 2013; less than 50% of higher income students performed below their grade level in math & reading during the same time period.

Source: http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/2014-soac.pdf

The Impact of the SNAP & SNAP-Ed Cuts

The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ends today which means a benefit cut for nearly 48 million SNAP recipients.  For a household of four, this cut equates to a $36 reduction in SNAP benefits per month.  Congressional work on the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP and SNAP-Ed, commenced this week with both the House and Senate proposing further cuts over the next ten years.  The House proposal would cut the $80 billion program by an additional $4 billion per year while the Senate proposal would cut the program by $400 million per year.

The lesser recognized component of the SNAP program, SNAP-Ed, is a federal / state partnership that supports nutrition education for persons eligible for the SNAP.

State agencies who conduct nutrition education are eligible for reimbursement up to 50% of their SNAP-Ed costs by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.  In Minnesota, SNAP-Ed is delivered by community educators from the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; these two agencies serve all counties in the state and six tribal reservations.

Snap Ed

Impact of Sequestration Cuts on Early Education

57,000 children nationwide, including 1,000 children in Minnesota, will be denied a place in Head Start and Early Head Start due to fallout from the sequester.  In addition to a reduction in the number of available spots, Head Start will be forced to:

  • Cut 1.3 million days of service
  • Provide 18,000 fewer hours of service through shortened school days
  • Terminate or reduce salaries of 18,000 employees

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

Head Start and Early Head Start are programs of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and provide comprehensive health, nutrition and education services to low-income children and their families.

Supporters of Head Start say research shows it offers substantial long-term benefits in key areas such as educational achievement while critics argue that Head Start has little or no lasting effects on its participants.

Worst Cuts to Head Start Since Program Began