Although, it’s not something we like to admit happens in our country, too many kids go to school and go to sleep hungry. Don’t believe us? Well, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 6 children living in America faces childhood hunger, with 13 million coming from ‘food insecure’ homes. It’s a heartbreaking statistic, but it’s also one that has empowered everyday folks to organize and do the right thing for the nation’s youth.
One recent example of this is a Texas law that was put into action last year, a regulation called the Texas Student Fairness in Feeding Act. It is written in it that public schools must institute ‘share cart’ or ‘share table’ initiatives in which students place their unwanted packaged snacks in a community area so that their peers can grab the extra snacks without the fear of being judged.
This new law enables each school district to become its own specialized nonprofit, a status which allows them to receive excess packaged, non-perishable food from community charities and PTA programs. It’s a big win for Texas schools planted in particularly impoverished communities.
In a report published by Texas news station ABC KSAT 12, we hear from Jenny Arredondo, San Antonio ISD’s child nutrition senior executive director. “Food insecurity is a major issue. It’s a challenge all districts face. It is a huge problem within our district, so a bill like this that has passed, our students are really the ones that are going to benefit from it,” Arredondo said.
Charisse Cline, an educator at Cody Elementary School echoes Arrendondo’s sentiments. She, too, has witnessed how the issue of hunger impacts growing minds and bodies, particularly in the most underserved communities. “It affects their learning. If they’re hungry, how can they concentrate?” Cline said. “I’m a teacher, and you have concerns and you care about that and you want to make sure their needs are met.”
Now that Cline’s–and all of Texas’ schools–have been able to follow this law, she says that she has witnessed some genuine improvements. “Definitely (a) huge difference. The kids are definitely happier,” Cline said.
It should be noted that sharing tables and sharing carts are also instituted in schools and school districts nationwide, including those that are not facing as intense of childhood hunger crises as those profiled above. For these schools, teachers and administrators are aiming to reduce waste and provide students with healthier options during lunchtime.
We’re so happy to hear that folks are taking the initiative to ensure that kids are staying healthy and, most importantly, fed! To learn more about the legalities associated with share tables, and to witness how one Michigan school manages to pull off the concept, be sure to watch the video below. Spoiler alert: a word from some happy, empowered kiddos ahead!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the share table concept! Are you a fan of the idea? Has your child’s school started a similar initiative? If so, has it been successful?