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Fighting Childhood Hunger in Schools

TeachHUB Interview

 

Fighting Childhood Hunger in Schools

Schools Fight Hunger is on a mission to bring America's schools and school families together in the effort to end childhood hunger.


Learn about the Schools Fight Hunger organization and find out how your school can participate in this exclusive TeachHUB interview.


Briefly tell us what Schools Fight Hunger is all about.


Schools Fight Hunger is a national non-profit bringing together America’s schools and school families around the cause of ending childhood hunger.  Our mission, though, goes beyond just feeding the hungry today and includes educating school children on the realities of hunger in America and effective efforts for combating this epidemic.

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By introducing the students to service now, we hope to inspire them to a lifetime of giving back.


Why have you made schools the central focus of this anti-hunger program?
 

1. They are community centers.

Many schools have and will continue to function as the centers of the neighborhoods they are in; they have a unique ability to sustain and enhance the quality of life of their community.

2. They want to and can make a big difference.

For years - even decades - tens of thousands of schools have held food drives and other anti-hunger efforts as part of their community outreach.  Recognizing that hunger was affecting their students physically and mentally drove to an increased desire and need to address this issue and push the community at large to do the same.  Schools are already a driving force in the anti-hunger movement.  We want to help increase the number of schools involved and the effectiveness of what they are doing.

3. Service learning teaches important lessons to the next generation.

In addition to the benefits of “doing good” there is an educational component that compels schools to want to get involved.  Community development activities provide engaging, and genuine learning opportunities for the students beyond what classroom studies offer.  Allows students to recognize the importance of service and grow to become involved and concerned citizens.


What don’t people know or understand about the current hunger problems in the United States?
 

For the average American, I think there is a stereotype that comes to mind when you discuss someone who is “hungry.”  They picture someone uneducated, without a job, living on the street.  In today’s economic climate, often times the face of hunger is incredibly different.  It could be your neighbor, a highly educated businessman who recently lost his job and has 2 kids and his wife to support or the student who sits next to your child in advanced geometry whose single mother was recently affected by a round of layoffs. The families who have often times given to the local food bank or pantry are now the ones that may need the extra help. 


When it comes to childhood hunger, I know it also surprises most to hear that 1 in 4 children are at risk of hunger.  That is over 17 million children going to school fatigued, unable to concentrate or on their studies and more susceptible to illness because they are undernourished. 


What are some unique or unusual programs your organization puts together beyond food drives and monetary donations?


Schools Fight Hunger is meant to be a resource for schools that want to get involved with fighting hunger and make a difference in their community.  Through our online and offline tools, we provide advice on how to take action.


Aside from food drives and fundraising, we offer resources and best practices in volunteering efforts, garden projects, service clubs and educational and outreach campaigns.   Within these categories, there are hundreds of different initiatives schools could take on and impact change.  A bang out hunger rock concert, snack bag committee to deliver afternoon goodies to the local shelter, a “food fight” competition between schools to see who offers the most meals to the food bank - the possibilities are limitless!


How do schools work together through Schools Fight Hunger? Is it all individual efforts or is there a sense of community?


It all depends.  Some schools work independently on a food drive or hunger garden, some couple up and hold a competition, others come together in a district or region-wide initiative.  It really varies by town, region and district.  Through Schools Fight Hunger, we are bringing all those efforts together in one national school movement and recognizing our nation’s schools both individually and collectively for the amazing work they are doing to end hunger.


What is one of the most memorable stories or programs that Schools Fight Hunger has been a part of?


This fall, SFH befriended and began following the efforts of the North Carolina School of Science and Math.  This is an incredibly active school community that attempted to break the Guinness World Record for largest 24-hour food drive in 2010.


Through a partnership with the school, we were able to support their efforts and help them achieve the goal this March.  After collecting over 559,000 pounds of food, they now hold the Guinness Record – largely due to the dedication of the volunteers, students and amazing community support. We think of ourselves as cheerleaders and friends of the effort but were extremely excited to help in any way we could and to celebrate with them this amazing accomplishment!


What are some ways high poverty schools and low-income communities who are in need get involved? 


We’ve seen many schools in low-income communities run incredibly successful food drives – both through their amazing spirit to give anything they possibly can to help others and through outreach to companies and partners in the community.  Not to mention two of the most valuable things a school can do are 1) volunteer time and 2) raise awareness. Any student, group or family can make a big impact just through volunteering time – stocking shelves, sorting food, and serving dinners – or raising awareness of the hunger issue and possible ways for others to help.

You’ve outlined some of the major programs teachers, students and parents can start to get involved. What are some small things teachers do to fight hunger in their classrooms?


One of the common denominators in successful school hunger efforts is teacher and administrator involvement.  When the teachers get on board, it is inspiring to the students. No surprise, the kids also love it when the teachers throw in a reward – wear a tutu, sing the school anthem, perform a rap, or any other creative act.  


It’s also important to remember that these hunger efforts can not only teach students empathy but what about math, nutrition, history? Use food drives for counting and multiplication practice, incorporate a garden project into nutrition programs, design awareness posters as part of an art project or run a hunger simulation to drive home studies of life during the Great Depression.  All great and innovative ways to compliment standard curriculum and bring awareness of the hunger issue.


What are 3 factors teachers should know about schools getting involved with hunger-fighting and the SFH program?
 

1. Education is Key!

Hunger is a major problem in the US. Combating stereotypes, recognizing that 1 in 4 children is at risk of hunger and teaching students how they can help solve the issue are huge steps in ending childhood hunger nationally.  Joining the fight to end hunger is also an amazing way for students to support their community and make a big difference for other students in their town and even their school. 


2. We are here to help! 

We offer hard copy and downloadable resources and tools for a variety of hunger-fighting efforts. These resources are designed to help schools kick start a new hunger effort or add to the success of what they are currently doing.  Even if you don’t see something you are looking for in our materials, we’re all about supporting schools any way we can so just email us at contact@schoolsfighthunger.org and we’ll see what we can do.


3. Share your story!


If you are working on hunger-related issues in the classroom or outside with your students, please share your stories on the Schools Fight Hunger website.  Your school deserves some national recognition (an Award of Distinction) for what you are doing. Not to mention, by just sharing your school news you’ll help focus even more attention on the issue of childhood hunger nationally.  The more schools involved, the more momentum and the more help we’ll all be!


Learn more on the Schools Fight Hunger website.

 

Share how your school gets involved in great organizations like Schools Fight Hunger, or suggest a subject for our next Ed Celeb interview in the comments section!