Teachers are passionate about their students’ success, and many times reach into their own pockets to purchase the educational materials needed for their classroom. The average educator spends $500 per school year to provide students with the tools needed to succeed. However, Feed the Children is helping ease the financial burden by supplying classroom supplies and books at no cost to educators through the organization’s Teacher Stores.
The nonprofit believes education is the best way to help break the cycle of poverty, but without the proper tools for learning, students face overwhelming odds.
After seeing an overwhelming need in the communities the organization serves, Feed the Children opened its first Teacher Store in Elkhart, Ind. in 2010. Additional Teacher Stores were opened at Feed the Children sites including Oklahoma City, Okla. in 2012; La Vergne, Tenn. in 2013; Ontario, Calif. in 2014; and Bethlehem, Pa. in 2015. All Teacher Store locations offer free classroom materials and books to educators in Title I schools in their state. The Indiana location also serves the southwest portion of Michigan.
The annual store openings each summer draw thousands of educators, allowing them to fill a bag full of classroom supplies as well as collect an assortment of books for the upcoming school year. Supplies include classroom essentials such as notebooks, copy paper, glue, pencils, pens and instructional materials. The stores are open select days each week throughout the school year to allow educators to restock their classroom with supplies and books throughout the year.
“To be able to come into the Teacher Store and pick up the supplies I need for my classroom is an absolute thrill,” said Lena Kofed, a 35-year teacher. “It’s absolutely amazing what you can get for your classroom at the Teacher Store.”
During opening week this summer, more than 3,000 teachers visited a Feed the Children Teacher Store collecting nearly 165,000 pounds of classroom supplies.
“A lot of teachers were supplementing their classrooms out of their own pockets,” said Gary Sloan, Feed the Children Chief Operating Officer. “I think this a great way Feed the Children can support education for both students and teachers.”
In fiscal year 2017, Feed the Children hosted 22,128 teacher visits and provided more than $6.8 million in teaching supplies, and books valued at $9.8 million. These materials benefitted more than 525,000 students across 422 school districts.