Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Backpack! Backpack! Backpack! Backpack!

(name the obscure children's TV show reference)

I just found Marie's blog over at the South Carolina Counselor Cafe as she posted on my Facebook page, and in looking back through her entries, I found a great reference for helping families faced with poverty and homelessness.

As I've mentioned many a time, my school is high poverty, low SES. We have about 99% of the students receiving free and reduced lunches. At the district level, we find that many of our students do not have enough to eat. As such, we have a breakfast program where every morning, the students are provided with a breakfast pack and milk. I always make sure to have extra breakfasts in my office. Why? Well, if there's a kid having a behavioral fit before 10:00am, there's a pretty good chance they haven't eaten breakfast (and in some cases, since lunch at school the previous day). The first thing I ask when kids are having meltdowns in the morning is whether or not they had breakfast--not "what did you do?" or "what happened?"

A tangential story for a moment. Last winter, we had a terrible snowy day (which never happens in Western NY, right? ha). All the surrounding districts were closed, but not ours. Why you may ask? It was a Friday, and the rumor was that the superintendent kept school open so that the students would get breakfast and lunch in school Friday, and wouldn't have to go three days without food over a long weekend.

This year, we have a new partnership with the local food bank. This was sought out through the community service providers that are housed in my building. Every Friday, the food bank provides backpacks full of nutritious food for our students to take home over the weekend. We have over 50 families participating! It's such a wonderful program and has so many great benefits. Aside from giving families food for the weekend, the backpack program is also designed to increase school attendance. There's nothing like seeing all the little munchkins tearing down the hallway on the way to the bus with their yellow backpacks bouncing on their backs. I'm so glad we have the opportunity to provide for these students!

If you work in a high poverty area, or have a student population that is significant for homelessness, contact your local food bank or soup kitchen and see if they also partner with schools to provide for students. You never know what you might find out.

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1 comment:

  1. Very nice! I'm in a district that has its fair share of students who live with the grinding poverty that not many people think about. We're always working within the school to ensure that the needs of children are met as best we can, however the use of local agencies in our area is what solidifies that effort for us.


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