Once a month, teachers at an Orange County elementary school receive a delivery of small, shrink-wrapped packages. These packs include kid-friendly food items that are calorically-correct for an elementary-age student for two days. On Fridays, teachers move from room to room, slipping the precious weekend food packs into the backpacks of the students that they know are at the greatest risk of being hungry when school begins again on Monday.
Matthew is an eight-year old student at this school. One Friday afternoon, he eagerly opened his backpack before heading for home. His instant disappointment quickly turned to tears when he saw no food pack inside.
His teacher reports that he burst out crying in front of the other students, saying “But, I really, really needed that food…”
One of Matthew’s classmates, Jasmine, stepped up immediately and said, “Here, you can have this one—you need it more than me.”
Matthew stopped crying, brightened up, and thanked his friend over and over for sharing. Two very important things occurred in this situation. First, it underscored for teachers how big the need really was among their students’ families, and that it isn’t always easy to ‘spot’ the ones who need help.
Second, it pointed out how quickly and profoundly an extended helping hand can change a person’s outlook. A little empathy, sacrifice, and generosity on Jasmine’s part went a long way; we can all learn something from her act of kindness.
Thanks to the generosity of contributors throughout the community, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida was able to distribute more than 38,000 weekend feeding packs for kids last year through its “Hi-Five” program. But many more schools, and many more students like Matthew and Jasmine need help.
As more support is received, more outreach can be accomplished. One student at a time.
September is Hunger Action Month. To play a role in ending hunger and learn more, visit: http://www.CFLHungerAction.org
Greg Higgerson, CFRE