Not one of us had a perfect childhood, but I would guess that many, if not most, of us didn't have to worry about where we were sleeping at night, what kind of physical and/or verbal abuse might await us at home, and whether or not we would eat each day. Most of my students deal with at least one of these issues on a daily basis... and hunger is the most common.
The backpack friends program doesn't ONLY work to solve the hunger issue, but it works to solve the other issues. Giving a child enough food to cover all meals for the weekend does so much more than one might recognize. When you feed a child, you give them such a sense of safety and security, [and] you are reaching their most basic needs in such a unique and personal way.
I'd like to tell you a story about "Hank"...... Hank came to me in September of last year having already been in and out of three other elementary schools. He experienced violence at home, and therefore was very violent in the classroom. Past records indicated that some teachers had grown tired and sort of given up on Hank. It dawned on me and a few of my colleagues that Hank was desperately crying out for security, stability, and predictability in his life. One of the quickest and easiest fixes that we could provide was the backpack program. Some of us might have picky eaters at home; children that will do anything to NOT EAT what is placed in front of them. Hank, on the other hand, was like a kid at Christmas, and his entire demeanor changed immediately after he recieved his first supply of meals. He was so excited that he typically attempted to sneak some of the snacks during class! (Most of the time, his teacher conveniently didn't catch him... *wink* *wink*)
That being said, I had to do A LOT to gain his trust, but the backpack program was the first BIG step in the right direction. His belly was full, his brain was ready, and he knew school was a place that would provide for him when his parents couldn't.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for backpack freinds.....you'll be doing so much more than feeding a child. Remember, children are one of our greatest gifts, and most certainly one of our greatest responsibilities. And we are often responsible for the ones that aren't even our own.