Hunger in the Classroom

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As a teacher and a principal, I’ve seen hunger affecting the lives of students every day of my career. At Dayton’s Bluff Elementary on the East Side of St. Paul, 93% of our students receive free/reduced lunch. Food insecurity impacts our students in many different ways, but it is never the same for each child or family.

Hunger prevents students from reaching their full potential. It inhibits their physical, social, and emotional development. Students living without proper nutrition from a young age struggle to achieve, and many times never get caught up to what and where they could have been.

Despite all of these obstacles, we also see the resiliency and strength of our students as they strive to do their best – even when they are hungry. We see parents working two, three jobs in order to make sure their children’s basic needs are met while they go hungry themselves. We experience students sharing food with each other. Each week, students in our Sheridan Story program tell us how much they enjoy the fruits and vegetables they are able to bring home on weekends. Every day, I see my staff offer empathy, caring and compassion to our students when they are hungry.

At our school, partnerships go a long way toward providing families with resources and support. Neighborhood House operates an on-site Family Center at Dayton’s Bluff helping school families and community members with food, clothing, jobs, transportation, and housing. They also lead fresh monthly produce distributions during the summer months. Second Harvest, Food + You, and Neighborhood House even operate a mini onsite food shelf offering essentials like boxed milk so families can get immediate assistance when they need it most.

Through all of our partnerships we can wrap services around a family and create an environment of positivity. These resources exist to provide food, support and other basic needs. This sparks a sense of community and helps our young students thrive.

Lena Christiansen
Principal, Dayton’s Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary School