Food for thought: fighting food insecurity

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Most students are back in school. This means that the majority of children will now be guaranteed school lunches five days a week. Although the return of school lunches is certainly a boon to families struggling with food insecurity, it is important not to get lulled into thinking that their trials are over. 

The autumn and winter months can present unique challenges for families when it comes to finding food. From layoffs to shifting demands for power and heating, there are numerous obstacles awaiting families as the days shorten. 

Hungry and cold students are unlikely to be able to focus in school, or retain what they learn. One guaranteed meal a day is not enough to counteract this. Here are three steps you can take to ensure that students have enough food for thought this fall.

Donate Seasonally Appropriate and Nutritious Foods

Nobody wants to go hungry, but nobody wants to eat a popsicle when it is below freezing either. Food donations should be focused on quick and easy breakfast foods like cereal, bread, peanut butter, and jelly, which give students the calories and nutrients needed for a busy day at school. Of course, one should also continue donating dinner items, and food for people who do not have access to school meals.

Donate School Supplies

Food is not the only ingredient necessary for a productive school year. Many schools will accept donations of notebooks, pencils, and erasers. These tools can help a child learn without the distractions of failing equipment.

Donate Cold Weather Clothing

As the days get shorter, students will need winter clothing to wait at bus stops and avoid freezing temperatures. Donating used or new winter coats, hats, boots, and gloves can help keep children warm. Try to donate apparel in a wide range of sizes, from kids to adults.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Holmes is a high school student in Cook County. For the past eight of his sixteen years, Daniel has been a 4-H club member. In this time he has cycled through many different offices within his club, the Creative Clovers. Daniel is eager to work alongside his 4-H peers to fight food insecurity in the state of Illinois.