Lately, there have been some comments, jokes, and other shenanigans going around about the idea of ‘free lunch’ in schools. I’m going to refrain from referencing specific political figures, but I am going to write a little about the idea of ‘free lunch’ in schools. In my experience, hungry children are no laughing matter.
As we all know, there are many diverse student populations. While many of us are lucky enough to work in schools where the majority of students come in well fed, clothed, rested, and ‘ready to learn’ – there are others who work in schools where the majority of students come in hungry, tired, dirty, scared, or otherwise dealing with issues making them definitely not ‘ready to learn’. Yet, we persist.
We find clean, unripped clothes for them. We take time out of our planning and lunches to sit and chat with them. We call home. We call home. We call and call.
And we feed them. We feed them breakfast. We feed them lunch. We shove food we’ve bought with our money into backpacks on Friday afternoons and even go grocery shopping and deliver food to homes. We use our own money to start food pantries in the school so kids aren’t hungry over weekends and school vacations. We ensure our cafeterias are open all summer so there’s a safe place to get food.
We do whatever we have to do because these students are more than ‘students’ to us, they’re ‘our kids’ and we would never let our kids go hungry.
If you’re lucky enough to work in a school where free lunch isn’t necessary, count your blessings. The ‘free lunch’ we provide is so much more than ‘free lunch’ – we provide a little bit of food security, lots of love, and hopefully, help every child be ‘ready to learn’.