The students who would benefit are in Grades PreK- 2 who qualify for free/reduced lunches at school, but are food insecure on weekends.
Since food security is an unmet need in our rural district, our High School Leadership Class created a backpack program for students PreK-2.
According to the 2016 Missouri Hunger Atlas, 34.7% of children in our county live below the poverty level & 27.6% of the children are considered food uncertain. Over the past decade the number of children qualifying for free and reduced school lunch has ranged from 69-76.1%.
Although free/reduced lunches assist food insecure children during the week, it does not address hunger on the weekend. The Missouri Hunger Atlas rates our county as a high need/low-performance county, which means we are not doing enough to meet the hunger needs in our community.
We currently serve 130-140 students on the free and reduced lunch program.
Although most families on free/reduced lunch do receive assistance through SNAP, the 2016 FRAC’s National, State, and Local Index of Food Hardship reports “the benefits just are not enough for most families to make it through the month.” Our program provides lunch and breakfast options which take up most of our budget. We are hoping the supplies from Donor's Choose will provide snacks for in-between the meals. It is our hope the food we provide will some relief to the students and their families.
Our BEAR Necessities program benefits students socially, academically and physically.
Inadequate nutrition or food may lead to lower energy levels. According to the Feeding America 2015 article, The Link Between Learning and Child Hunger in America, “social activity and learning are the last place that energy from food is applied, so children that do not have adequate access to healthy foods may experience social and learning delays.” Increased social learning helps students make better choices which can lead to healthier bodies and minds
The effects of child hunger can touch not only their cognitive development but their physical health. Inadequate food may also leave children’s immune systems more susceptible to disease and health issues
Providing meals for students not only benefits the health of the children but the health of the family. Relieving some of the worry and stress of parents as they attempt to provide for their child benefits the family unit. For families and children participating in our program, we hope to instill a sense of community by showing caring and compassion.
Our goal is to have a lasting effect on these children. We believe students working in the program and those receiving the benefits will develop positive attitudes and relationships with others and increase their school performance.
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