Hungry kids experience more anxiety, miss more school, and disrupt their class more often. A child should ever have to carry the burden caused by hunger.
The following is a first-hand account from Jay Poitras, an educator whose school participates in the charity’s Power Full Kids program.
One morning, one of my grade 3 students came over as I supervised the kids filling their plates with breakfast. Thomas*, a quiet kid, small for his age but very strong-willed, asked me what foods a baby could eat. I thought it was a curious question, but we went through the foods that would be ok for a baby to have.
Then one day I noticed Thomas trying to pour a fruit smoothie into a small zip lock bag. I wondered if he was taking it home for later and didn’t want it to spill in his backpack, so I asked him if he wanted some help. The help he needed went beyond a better way to carry a fruit smoothie. As a teacher you don’t always know what your students are dealing with, but I didn’t expect that eight-year-old Thomas was making sure his 6-month-old sister had food each day.
Thomas didn’t want his friends to see, so I started to help him discreetly. Once he knew he was in a supportive space, he began to ask for vegetables for his autistic brother who liked the sensation of chewing crispy, crunchy foods. Together we would put food in the fridge that he could take home at the end of the day for his brother and sister.
Both of Thomas’ parents work full-time—his mother holding multiple jobs trying to make ends meet. But unfortunately, this story is a lot like other families who battle with food insecurity - it’s a reminder that our communities should look out for each another.
Thomas’ situation broke my heart. Imagine being eight years old and worrying about where your next meal is coming from, or providing for your baby sister and brother with special needs.
President’s Choice Children’s Charity’s Power Full Kids program is the reason why I can help Thomas, and all of my students start their day with a full tummy. The program offers children security - knowing that they will get nutritious food at school every day relieves a huge burden from their little minds.
*name has been changed for the protection of the minor.