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The Cost of School Supplies Could Hit Some Families Hard

Backpacks. Pencils. Notebooks. Calculators. Erasers. Highlighters and so much more. The school supplies lists are exciting for students, but they might bring on anxiety for some parents. The back-to-school shopping season can uncover a new set of challenges for families who are struggling to make ends meet. That’s because right before school starts, in the heat of the summer, family budgets are stretched to the max. Between higher electricity bills and buying more food, there’s not much room left to prepare for going back to school. 

Single mom Katrina has to constantly juggle her small paycheck to try to provide for her family. 

“It’s very hard. I make those decisions every day. But if you don’t have that money flowing in, how are you going to be able to do it?” she said. 

Kim is a full-time hair stylist with two kids. Her income depends on other people having money to spend on a haircut. And if they don’t, she is in a bind. 

“I’m trying to make sure that I keep up with the bills and all of the household needs. My daughter is in school, and I have a two-year-old who needs diapers. So, that’s been a struggle for me,” Kim said. 

Now with the 2023-2024 school year here, families like Kim’s and Katrina’s could face significant hardships, considering the cost of school supplies. According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $890 on school supplies. That’s a record high, beating out last year by $25. 

Children sitting on the floor with educational material

While much of that cost can be attributed to electronics – which are sometimes required for older students – learning can be frustrating without the right resources. Many times, teachers step up to help their students if they don’t have all the necessary supplies. According to the National Education Association, more than 90% of teachers will spend their own money on school supplies. Educators are estimated to spend more than $820 out-of-pocket dollars on supplies to help their students succeed. 

It shouldn’t be a privilege to have all the school supplies needed, and that’s why Feed the Children is here to help. Two programs in the U.S. focus on the needs of students – School Resource Rooms and the Backpack Program. Both programs provide school supplies, books and food to those who need it the most. These resources help kids succeed in the classroom while increasing their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty. 

Because all kids deserve to walk into school on the first day with the confidence and the tools they need to thrive. You can make a difference this back-to-school season when you partner with Feed the Children. When you give, children and families receive food and essentials like hygiene items and cleaning supplies, which are not covered by SNAP benefits. This will free up their budget to buy the necessary supplies to go back to school. Help children succeed this school year. 

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