How to Free People from the Federal Hunger Safety Net: Feed the Children’s Testimony to Congress

Today in Washington D.C., Feed the Children asked Congress to support multi-sector collaboration. Jonathan Webb, Director, Foundation Partnerships at Feed the Children, testified at a public hearing beginning at 10 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building. His testimony, “The Role of Nonprofits in Addressing Hunger,” was delivered to the Full Committee on Agriculture as they discussed, “The Past, Present and Future of SNAP: The World of Nutrition and the Role of the Charitable Sector.”  The complete line-up of speakers is here

Here we offer a summary of his remarks to Congress to keep you informed of Feed the Children’s progress in furthering public-private partnerships to support efforts in identifying, creating and scaling up newer and more effective strategies for ending hunger.

The testimony and recommendations were written by members of our Program Impact Department and Government Relations Department, with input from other Feed the Children staff and are available in their entirety here.


Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.27.43 AM
Jonathan Webb, Director of Foundation Partnerships at Feed the Children, testifying before the House Agriculture Committee.

Today I’m in Washington D.C., offering a “call-to-action” testimony asking Congress to change how our country addresses childhood hunger.

As we know, the public sector can’t do it alone—and the nonprofit community can’t do it alone. Public-private partnerships are the true key to decreasing the number of individuals currently relying on the hunger safety net provided by the federal government.  We know the current safety net is not enough to end hunger in the US, so we are promoting solutions to ensure that fewer Americans will need that safety net.

We are offering three recommendations to Congress that will foster innovation, collaboration and improved measurement of results and impact in order to decrease the need for the federal safety net, improve food security and nutrition, and make the safety net more cost-effective.

Student Strong Eye Exam

First, we are recommending that Congress establish a Food Security and Nutrition Social Innovation Fund. This fund could be created from the USDA’s existing resources to foster a stronger network of anti-hunger partners and promote the multi-sector collaboration necessary to yield smart, innovative solutions to hunger.

Such a fund will allow us to break down the walls that often exist between various sectors– community leaders, nonprofits, academics and governments—and have prevented us from looking at the big-picture issues that define hunger.  Leveraging the skill sets from these constituencies will help us collaborate on creative solutions that go deeper than simply increasing access to direct service.  This $370 million fund would help support a formal “community of practice” and innovation grants to help scale-up the most cost-effective program models that can help defeat hunger.

Second, we’re requesting better access to federally funded demonstration projects.  Currently, nonprofits are severely limited in how we combine efforts with the federal government, especially with the difficulty in leveraging USDA grants.

webb post 1Feed the Children is recommending that Congress encourage nonprofits to bid collaboratively for demonstration projects that test new and effective approaches to improving food security and nutrition programs, as well as administering federal nutrition programs. In order to further encourage program innovation among nonprofit organizations, Congress should dedicate increased funding to targeted demonstration projects, and take actions that will permit necessary flexibility in federal nutrition programs.

And third, we recommend federal grant applications from Congress require measurement of results and impact of programs, using standardized food security and nutrition indicators that will help to assess which programs are having the best results.  The federal government—in collaboration with its partners—needs to study, measure and replicate success.

We look forward to the results and next steps that emerge from today’s testimony and Feed the Children’s recommendations.

~

Feed the Children staff pictured in the image above: Kim Baich, Kevin Hagan, Tom Davis, Jonathan Webb, Trevor Moe, and Jayme Cloninger

Rocking and Rolling for Hunger in New Orleans

Last weekend, Feed the Children participated in its first Rock N’ Roll Marathon in New Orleans. Our goals were simple: raise awareness and funds to defeat hunger and have fun doing it! 400 families in the Central City section received food and essential products for the week. Thomas Morstead of the New Orleans Saints served as our team captain. 

We hope this event was just the start of future pursuits for #TeamFeedtheChildren.  Heather Montgomery, a blogger shared her experience being a part of the weekend and we knew you’d be inspired by it. Here’s her story:

This past weekend, not only did I get to run my first post baby half marathon, but I got to meet up with fellow runners and bloggers, and do some good for the city of New Orleans. For those that don’t know, I was born right outside of the city in Metairie, and I grew up about 30 miles away. I still consider it home, as all of my family is still there, so I was excited to give back and help Feed the Children last Saturday. . . . .

IMG_2320 (2)

Feed the Children was the benefitting charity for this race, which I was happy to hear. We have been supporters of the charity for years, and it was really great to see them in action in the community. On this day, 400 families were going to be given food, toiletry items, haircuts, lunch, and fro yo! We arrived at the Apex youth center and a line had already formed outside.

IMG_2322 (2)

We arrived just in time to throw on some volunteer t-shirts and catch the end of the volunteer meeting.

IMG_2323 (2)

Families would go through the inside of the center and then out onto the basketball court where we had boxes of food and such. Whole Foods was there giving away fruit, and we manned the milk station.

IMG_2353 (2)

IMG_2331 (2)

There was a DJ, a lot of amazing volunteers, and…..

IMG_2332 (2)

THOMAS MORSTEAD! He is the punter for the New Orleans Saints….and if you know ANYTHING about me, you know I love Saints football. Heck, I stalked Malcolm Jenkins in the New Orleans airport last year so I could get a picture. Thomas does a TON for the city of New Orleans. He is always in the news helping different charities, and it was so great to meet him. He actually took the time to talk to me which was super nice. He and his wife were running the 10k the next day, and he told me he wasn’t in running shape so he hoped a lot of people stopped him along the way so he could get a break! The coolest thing was not once did he “act famous”. He graciously took photos when asked, but I constantly saw him working, carrying boxes, and helping people…and it was awesome.

After my total geek out moment, it was back to work. I moved over to the boxes provided by AVON, helping hand them out to the grateful families.

IMG_2356 (2)

It was such an amazing experience getting to give back during a race weekend, and see where the charity money goes. Yes I could have been out on the beautiful day that is was exploring the city or enjoying my first baby free weekend with Bobby, but this was way, way more important, and I am so glad that Rock ‘n Roll made it possible for us to take part. We need to never forget while we are enjoying our racecations and running our miles, that there are families out there thankful just for a quart of milk and a free haircut. It really makes you realize how truly blessed we really are, and how great Rock ‘n Roll is for having a charity for their races!

IMG_2371 (2)

Thanks to Larisa for some of the photos!

QOTD: Have you ever helped out at a charity event?

Expanding the Table for Kids this Summer

For the more than 16 million children at risk of going hungry in the United States every day, summer break can be a tough time when it comes to finding a meal. With schools closed, kids on free and reduced lunch can’t count on three square meals a day.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) a federally funded program administered through the USDA office of Food and Nutrition (FNS) currently serves 3.5 million children each summer.

While this number is significant, it also means over 12 million kids aren’t eating lunch every day. The severity of the gap is frightening.

We can do better. We want to expand the table this summer to include more children. More tables need to be set. Many more children must be fed.

And, this is what we know: when government agencies, faith based groups and NGOs band together to support summer food service programs, the story changes. More children eat.

We’ve learned from FNS that Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites almost always organize on a grassroots level. Faith communities hold particular and bring unique value to this process.

Often faith groups host these program sites as part of their summer camps and classes for kids. Lunch is often built into already existing community programming. It’s a win, win for the organization and the children.

IMG_5506And so, to bolster these efforts, Feed the Children needs your help. We’d like to chat with you about how we can encourage more groups, in particular faith groups, to become a part of the Summer Food Service program.

Though it is only January, the time to organize is now. So that in June, more kids can count on three squares.

Tomorrow FNS will host a free webinar called, “Summer Meals: Engaging Faith Based and Neighborhood Groups.” If you’d like to join in the conversation with some thought leaders like Melissa Rogers, the Special Assistant to the President, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith Based Partnerships, here’s more information.

And, to build on the momentum of this conversation, Feed the Children would like invite you to join us in a Twitter Town Hall on Tuesday, February 3rd.

In collaboration with the White House Office of Faith Based Partnerships and USDA Food and Nutrition Service, we’d like you to talk with us about how we can feed more children in the US this summer.

Here’s what you need to know:

What: Twitter Town Hall

When: Tuesday, February 3rd, 1-2 pm EST

Who:

  • Members of faith communities who have participated in a summer meal program,
  • Faith leaders who want to participate in a summer meal program
  • Anyone who feels it is an injustice that kids go without food during the summer

Where: #expandingthetable

Why: Because 12. 5 million children without lunch this summer is unacceptable

See you online @feedthechildren on Tuesday.

Emergency Relief Coming to Malawi

Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries, experienced torrential rains this week, resulting in rampant flooding due to late summer storms.  Although this is the region’s rainy season, Malawi has not seen flooding like this since 1964.

These deadly floods submerged villages and destroyed crops and livestock.  This disaster is especially devastating because 8 of every 10 Malawians earn a living through agriculture.

An estimated 200,000 people have fled their homes, finding themselves suddenly without access to food or shelter.  Already, almost 200 people are reported missing or dead.

Feed the Children currently operates community-based programs in more than 625 communities in Malawi and its team on the ground plans to focus its initial relief efforts in Nsanje, Chikwawa and Salima, three districts designated as priority areas for assistance by Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management. Feed the Children’s efforts in Salima district will benefit from our strong program presence in that area and our ability to mobilize there quickly.

Working in partnership with Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management, we are swiftly responding to this disaster with the help of Nu Skin’s Nourish the Children (NTC) Initiative and Proctor & Gamble. We are distributing tens of thousands of bags of Nu Skin’s VitaMeal to provide meals for the displaced.

If you would like to support our organization as we provide relief to Malawi flood victims, please visit our website.

(Image above from the UN).

I’m Running to Defeat Hunger

I am doing something that I thought I’d never do. On January 23rd, I will be running my first ever marathon!

When I first learned that Feed the Children was the benefiting charity of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in New Orleans this month, I made the commitment to run a full marathon on behalf of the children we serve.

MK2022 Employee Swag Day Aug 2014 PAllen (15)I am 46 years old and prior to this experience have never considered myself much of a runner (though I have played other sports).

In fact, it had been several years prior to my current marathon training that I had even put on a pair of running shoes with the intent of running in them. The longest distance I had ever run prior to my commitment was 6 miles and that was a lifetime ago.

Number one question that my friends and family have asked over the last couple of months has been is this difficult? Absolutely!

In order to run 26.2 miles you have to train for months.  Marathon training requires a lot of time, dedication and hard work. You have to be prepared to run in all kinds of conditions, the heat, the cold, rain and snow. Adding to the difficulty I experienced a fairly significant groin injury, had cortisone shots in both knees, and had muscle soreness like I have never experienced before, even during all my years of sports.

But, do the hardships that I have faced in my training compare to those faced by the children we serve each and every day?

Absolutely not! I accepted this challenge because I want to do my part to raise awareness on the issues of hunger.

Our vision of “no child going to bed hungry” will not happen on its own.

It will take each and every one of us to take a stand, make a commitment and unite together to defeat hunger.

As a father of four children, I cannot imagine my children having to worry about when or if they will eat again. Every child deserves to experience the awesomeness that goes along with being a kid and should never have to spend one second worrying about their next meal.

The fact that nearly 16 million children in our own country live in a food-insecure household is simply unacceptable to me. New Orleans is no exception with 1 in 6 people facing hunger issues on a daily basis. Yet, I believe the awareness we are bringing to hunger in New Orleans can change this!

What can you do to help Feed the Children realize our vision of no child going to bed hungry? Join Team Feed the Children as we run to end childhood hunger and make our miles meaningful.  Join us or donate toward our efforts on our website.

Chris is the Senior Director of Corporate Donor Relations at Feed the Children.

Child Sponsors: We Salute You!

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Since 2009, I’ve been traveling the world with musicians, singers, songwriters and their teams in hopes of this very thing: to engage the world with love and involve as many people in this lofty pursuit as possible.

In 2013, I joined the team at Feed the Children as Director of Artist Relations, Child Sponsorship and Media excited about how I could champion Feed the Children’s mission that no child goes to bed hungry!

After all the miles flown and countries visited, I still believe that one idea, like this, can change the world. We’ve seen it happen throughout history and continue to see it today. But ideas alone do not bring about change. This is what I’ve come to know through my work: change happens when WE engage the world around us and come together with a common goal. Partnership is the key! When we work together, lives are impacted and change is evident.

Over the past year at Feed the Children, we have seen the ripples of change turn into waves through child sponsorship. With over 20,000 kids sponsored in 2014, these simple single acts of kindness have created a tsunami of love for children and families all over the world. Your gracious monthly gifts have not only provided necessities to sustain life but they’ve given hope and the opportunity to dream big.

Kids are laughing. 2014-11-28 12.29.50

Kids are smiling.

IMG_9019

Kids are playing.

IMG_7463

Kids are being kids!

IMG_7551

So, if you are a child sponsor…THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! This is the message the children have for you!

IMG_1012

You have chosen to impact the life of a child and to unite with us as we together engage the world around us with love.

From the entire child sponsorship team, know how grateful we are for you! Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

-Crystal Hutchinson

Advocating for Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition

I’m honored to represent Feed the Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and at the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Pre-Conference this week in Rome, Italy. I’m joining 10 Ministers (e.g., Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture) and representatives from 160 governments there.  The last ICN was held 22 years ago to urge governments around the world to commit to very specific actions designed to improve nutrition, both in the Global North and Global South (these terms are the preferred way to refer to what we used to call the Developed and Developing world or First/Third-world).

This week, I will be advocating for three things I believe to be essential in order to improve the nutritional status of children around the world. (To understand terms we use when discussing hunger and nutrition, check out this infographic and post).

1. The need for prioritization

Right now, the framework for action being promoted at ICN2 contains a list of 60 policy and program options. We need to prioritize the options on this list if we expect measurable improvements in child nutrition.

One of the reasons that UNICEF’s child survival revolution was so successful in lowering child deaths is that they prioritized. They agreed to focus first on four specific actions, or interventions (referred to by the acronym GOBI – Growth monitoring, Oral rehydration, Breastfeeding, and Immunization).

This is more difficult to do in nutrition, but it’s still possible. I believe that in developing countries at least, we could (and should) focus on promoting three things : Essential Nutrition Actions, Essential Hygiene Actions, and women’s empowerment.  This is entirely doable. I have also suggested language changes in the CSO Vision Statement about the importance of water interventions (e.g. purification) and improved sanitation which can improve child nutritional status, and those changes have now been incorporated into the document.

Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition  with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)
Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)

2. The need for research

No nutrition program/project conducted at scale (e.g. with 1 million or more beneficiaries) in a developing country has come close to normalizing child growth. We still need more research, and formative research (e.g. Barrier Analysis), but there has been little discussion here about the need for that. In spite of everything we throw at it, malnutrition remains a problem and any reductions are often much less than 50% in 4-5 year projects.  That shows us that some of what we need to be doing is not being done, even when funding is available.

An example of the sort of interventions we may need:

  1. Reduce maternal depression.  One study by Pamela Surkan found that we could potentially reduce stunting by about 19-23% through elimination of maternal depression, and a randomized trial has been done that shows that depression can be reduced 93% at low cost in a developing country.
  2. Eliminate open defecation (when people don’t properly dispose of human waste, it contaminates their water and soil and sickens their children). In many countries, this is a huge problem, and it’s one of the main causes that we see so much stunting in children in Asia despite the number of calories that they take in. When children live in a dirty environment, their immune systems are chronically activated, and they don’t absorb the foods that they eat as well. We know that is a large underlying cause of stunting. Learn more here. To see the sanitation conditions many children face around the world, look at these photos curated by photographers from Panos Pictures and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor for World Toilet Day.) 

For that reason, we need to push countries to conduct more formal and formative research to find what works in reducing malnutrition, and the barriers and enablers to behaviors that we know can reduce malnutrition.

3. Access to nutrition promotion as a right

We need to affirm that access to nutrition promotion is a right in the same way that access to formal education of children is a right.  We know the lives it can save, and how it can decrease malnutrition at low cost, especially through the use of volunteer peer educators (e.g. Care Groups).

Why We Advocate for Ester

At Feed the Children, we focus our work on things that will help kids be kids. That means all kids. Not just kids in a certain country. Not just kids from a particular faith. Not just kids of a given ethnicity. Not just kids with specific ability.

When we say we have a mission to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials, that’s what we mean. No exclusions.

But that’s easier said than done for kids like Ester.

**

Ester is a happy 10-year-old—you’ll often see her with a smile. She lights up when she’s with her friends and cousins, or when she’s watching her family’s ducks waddle and peck, or when she’s listening to a good story.

Ester lives in the economically depressed community of Quezalapa 2, El Salvador, about 16 miles outside of the capital city, San Salvador. The community’s diet is based on rice, beans, vegetables, eggs, and tortillas, but Ester’s family can only afford to eat once a day, and most of their meals are limited to tortillas and beans—hardly the building blocks for a healthy child.

Most of the areas of the community have piped water service at home, but during the summer months, the water shortage reduces the service to only once every six days. But even that would be better than the non-potable water Ester’s family has to work with. They live on the edge of a ravine, where no public services reach.

The family is large and close-knit, 13 of them in all. Ester lives with her parents and little sister in a tiny house on the same land as her cousins and aunt, but they essentially live together—the kids all call each other brother and sister. Their houses are made of adobe and bamboo walls, sheet metal roofs, and dirt floors. They don’t have electricity or toilets—outside of the houses there is a latrine that they share with three neighbors.

But they’re a family, and that means they do everything they possibly can for each other.

Ester’s siblings and cousins learn and eat every school day at the center that Feed the Children runs in their community—but she has to stay home. Ester has cerebral palsy.

She doesn’t have the strength to hold objects in her hands, so she can’t feed herself. She can’t walk, so she’s wheelchair bound. And although her mind is absolutely there, Ester can’t speak. So her disability prevents her from attending a regular school. And unlike the resources available for kids with disabilities in the U.S., there are no accommodations, no special schools, and no affordable therapies for Ester in Quezalapa.

The areas where free therapy is provided for people with disabilities are out of reach for Ester. The main road that leads to San Salvador is inaccessible for her family: They would have to carry her 2.5 miles from the edge of the ravine, up an extremely rocky, twisting path. And even if they made it all that way to the road, they might have a very long wait for the sole bus that serves their community, which could very well be too full to accommodate her wheelchair. Besides, who can really choose bus fare over food?IMG_7970

So while Ester’s dad works as a farmer, earning around $2 a day, her mom and aunt take care of her at home. Ester loves the “home therapy” her mom gives her while she’s getting her dressed each day. She massages Ester’s hands, legs, and feet to relax her always-tensed muscles and to prevent blood clots from forming. She cleans and feeds her, and she’s deeply grateful for the meal that comes for Ester at noon:

“I’m happy because you are a big help for us. It’s very difficult for us to get food for this big family, and before you came we didn’t have a way to provide the nutritious food that you provide to our children.”

When Ester’s cousins come home from the feeding center, they bring her meal back with them. Because we fortify food at our center with vitamins and nutrients that kids need to grow healthy and strong, Ester’s mom has help in battling her daughter’s malnutrition.

“Thank you, Feed the Children, for the food—this is a blessing from you and from God, and I hope you can keep helping us with our children.”IMG_7986

We want to keep helping Ester until she doesn’t need help anymore, but with the limitations of her disability, that could mean her whole life. So that’s why we do more than just provide food.

At Feed the Children, we pursue advocacy initiatives that get us closer to our vision to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We are a global family, and that means we do everything we possibly can for each other.

One of our recent advocacy campaigns is the Disability Treaty. The Americans with Disabilities Act is the gold standard for the non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, accessibility, and inclusion for children and adults with disabilities, and the Disability Treaty is a 130-country-strong push to get those same protections for people worldwide.

According to the U.S. Department of State, “The challenge now is to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the Treaty for the benefit of the world’s one billion disabled people.”

As our staff has written about the Disability Treaty here in greater depth, the U.S.’s ratification of the treaty would provide greater accommodations for those with special needs around the world. So Feed the Children speaks up in Washington, and we urge you to do the same, wherever you are.

We are advocates for Ester. We are advocates for all kids. And they need you to be an advocate too. Click here to learn more about how you can use your voice to help kids be kids!

Youth Group Defeats Hunger for 400 Families

We all say that we want no child to go to bed hungry. But what if you believed it could be true?

Consider this: the youth group of Henryetta Church of the Nazarene in Henryetta, Oklahoma believes that they can change the status quo of hunger in their town.

At the beginning of this school year, Henryetta’s youth pastor, Jeff Williamson, started a conversation with his students about the fact that every day 1 in 5 kids is at risk of going to bed hungry in the United States. He told his students: “How can this be here in America? There’s a need in our own city. We need to do something about it.”

His students agreed.

On October 11-12, Pastor Jeff and the students selected Feed the Children as their partner and planned a “fast” to raise money for hungry kids in their town.

Students asked church members, teachers and friends to sponsor them for every hour that they thought the student could go without food. Each student had to find 20 sponsors to donate $10 each. When the kids doubted they could find 20 sponsors, Pastor Jeff told them to count how many Facebook friends they had. That made the project seem easier.

Then they considered how the students would spend the hours of their fast. Pastor Jeff encouraged the group to gather at a local park and sleep outside for the night, like the homeless often have to. They agreed to sleep out, and not in tents or on air mattresses either. They slept in cardboard boxes. Even though it was colder than usual that night in the park, 25 students and 7 adults outlasted the night.

We asked Pastor Jeff how he got his students to sleep outside in the cold for a night. He said:  “I challenged them to experience something new. I told them about all the people I’ve met in our town who camp out in the woods on a regular basis.”

WP_20141011_001

Over and over, the students said the same thing about the experience: “I never knew how it felt to be homeless.”

In the end, their efforts raised over $10,000, which they have designated to bring one Feed the Children truck, filled with boxes of food and everyday essentials, to their community. The truck will arrive with a week’s supply of food, along with personal hygiene and household items, for 400 families in need. It is scheduled to arrive before the Thanksgiving holiday.

They’ve also approached several major grocery stores in their community asking them to donate turkeys. They hope to enhance the Feed the Children boxes with a free turkey and loaf of bread.

On October 20, members of the church visited with Feed the Children staff in Oklahoma City and presented the check for the funds they raised to Feed the Children President and CEO, Kevin Hagan.

IMG_0052 (1)

Pastor Jeff said, “We want the community to know that we see them. They don’t have to be hungry over the holidays. God never intended the church to sit still while people are hungry in this world.”

When asked how families will be chosen to receive the food boxes, Pastor Jeff said they’re already working with school administrators in their town to select those who will receive the help.

We’re so proud of their efforts and what this group is doing to defeat hunger where they live!

Would you like to organize a similar project in your community? Contact us– we’d be glad to support you! 

Feed the Children Helps Teachers Too

Kids in the US are more than hungry.

While important, food will not satisfy all their needs.

Kids need to learn, in good schools, with well-prepared teachers—teachers who can offer kids every tool they need to grow into a successful future.

Feed the Children walks alongside teachers to help make this happen, as much as we are able.

Thanks to generous partners like the Office Depot Foundation, for the past three years, we’ve operated a Teacher Store within our distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City. (We have recently opened similar stores near Nashville, Tennessee and Elkhart, Indiana as well).

Two afternoons a week during the school year, the Teacher Store opens for instructors to shop for free for their classroom. They are given reusable bags to fill with whatever supplies they feel they need. They find everything from sets of books for reading groups, to markers, labels, bulletin board materials and classroom furniture, all available on a first come, first served basis. Feed the Children staff members greet each teacher and assist as needed.

IMG_1494Charme and JoAnn, teachers at Shawnee Early Learning Center in Shawnee, OK have been coming to the Feed the Children Teacher Store for the past two years. They both say that their kindergarten classrooms are better equipped to help kids learn thanks to the supplies from the Teacher Store.

Charme told us, “With budget cuts, money is tight at our school. Often we are spending our own money to buy supplies. But thanks to the Teacher Store, we are doing less and less of this!”

JoAnn added, “We love coming here because we can give our kids so many more opportunities to learn.”

Once a month, the teachers can return to shop again. Many do, and they bring their colleagues.

Debbie, a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Hills Elementary in Oklahoma City says she loves coming to the Teacher Store because, “The selection is great, IMG_1497.JPGespecially the books. I find so many things here that I don’t have to buy on my own.”

The sad truth is that many kids in America arrive at school without the most basic supplies. How can children learn without paper, pens, computers, and books? How will they be prepared to make it as adults without adequate training in school? They won’t.

Many teachers, often already underpaid, care so much about their students’ education that they spend their own money for classroom supplies for their students. On average, teachers spend at least $500 of their own money on resources to help their students learn.

One special education teacher, Yeneer who works at Western Heights Elementary in Oklahoma City, told us that because the challenges her students and their IMG_1498.JPGfamilies face are so great, school supplies are quite low on their parents’ priority list. Because of the Feed the Children Teacher Store, she’s able to provide her students with basic supplies.

“I love that my kids don’t feel less than,” she said. “With your help, my students feel more like all the other kids.”

That’s why it’s so important to us to support these teachers. When teachers receive the best resources possible, they’re free to focus all their energy and resources on teaching. And that gives their students every opportunity to learn and achieve great things.

We are indebted to the corporate donors who help stock our Teacher Stores each month, including TOPS Products, School Specialty, Excelligence Learning Corporation, BIC, Hachette Book Group, First Book, Disney Publishing, Scholastic and The Creative Company. They believe in our mission of providing hope for those without life’s essentials.

Together, we’re helping more kids be kids and learn to their fullest potential in school this year!