Many children know what it’s like to come to school hungry, and for teacher Katherine Gibson Howton, she knows all too well what it’s like when her students don’t get enough to eat at home. This is why she, along with a fellow teacher, has come up with a solution to feed kids who come to school hungry.
Howton took to Facebook to post a photo of a cabinet that she shares with another teacher, Julie Mack. The cabinet is stocked with instant oatmeal, bread, jars of peanut butter, tea, and strawberry preserves.
In the post, Hawthon said that every teacher she knows keeps an emergency cabinet stocked for their hungry students.
“Children come into our classroom everyday telling us they are hungry,” said the Oregon-based high school teacher. “Many more never say a word because they are embarrassed and it is up to us to notice that they are distracted, tired, and grumpy.”
Hawton added that compassionate teachers learn to ask if there is food in the house, and they also try to find out when was the last time the student has eaten. However, she adds that the “really skilled teachers” do more than that and just start feeding the hungry child.
Speaking with Scary Mommy, Howton said that she and her fellow teachers know that some of their students have no food in the house by the end of the month. This week, when a student of hers complained of a headache, she learned that the student hasn’t eaten all day.
Howton learned that a majority of her colleagues provide food for their students.
“I asked my colleagues, ‘Do you find it weird that we’ve never talked about it’ If we as educators aren’t talking about it, how could parents possibly know?” she said.
Last week, it was reported that the US government is planning to cut after-school programs that provide free food to students. According to CNN, the National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program that enables children to get low cost or free lunches at school, won’t be affected by the cut. However, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, a US Department of Education program that supports before and after-school and summer programs, may be in danger of getting axed.
For most children, the government’s free school lunches and after-school meal programs are the only way for them to get enough food to keep them satiated for the day. Howton said that while the government is cutting the federal safety net, she, along with other teachers, are making sure to provide “this invisible safety net that no one knows about.”
For more, check out Jobs & Hire’s report on the Canadian teacher who won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.