Many children around the country and even in Minnesota are not getting the nutrition they need or even three meals a day. Some children rely on school breakfasts and lunches for their meals for the day, not knowing if they will get dinner when they get home. This has become a problem in schools when the children seem sluggish and not able to concentrate and perform well in their classes. Communities and teachers have partnered together to help change that problem.
In Rochester, Minnesota there is a program called the backpack program that ensures kids have food for the entire weekend until they come back to school. It was started by pastors at a local church called Autumn Ridge. Every Friday twenty backpacks are filled with fruit, snacks, bread and canned foods and held in the principals office for children to come get on their way home. There is even a secret message over the intercom at the end of the day that signals to those twenty kids that they can come get the bags. Teachers have seen a difference in the children that are in the backpack program, they are more alert and focusing on their academics rather than their stomachs.
Another program was started by Maxfield Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota called Meals for Minds. This program funded by Target Corp. holds a food pantry night every month that allows children to pick out what food they would like for free with their parents. The principal of Maxfield Elementary also started a family night along with the pantry. Family night serves dinner and offers nutrition classes to parents and kids and allows teachers to have more one on one with the parents. These food pantries that are now at nine schools in the metro area are combating child hunger and helping make a difference at home and at school.
Both of these programs are making a difference in their schools. Children’s test scores are going up and they are able to stay focused and not act out as much because of being hungry. Every child should have the same chance at having a successful academic career no matter their parents economic status.