Monday, August 9, 2010

A Nice Story

Just a bit of good news from our school at today's BOE meeting--a program known as WEB, or the "weekend backpack" program, founded by the elementary school social worker along with folks from the Kitchen Cupboard, sent food home every Friday in 24 elementary students' backpacks last year--2 proteins, 2 grains, 2 dairy products, and 2 veg/fruits. Thanks to help from Sertoma, Dryden churches, and a variety of other local organizations (for example, the Girl Scouts help pack the food), WEB was able to continue this over the summer and will serve 36 children next year. They will also be able to supply children with toothbrushes and toothpaste every 3 months. The collaboration among Dryden agencies and organizations is pretty remarkable, and the service feeds kids for whom free school breakfast and lunch five days a week are otherwise the only regular meals they get.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What percentage of families in Dryden can't afford food, or toothbrushes for their children?

KAZ said...

Well, the county as a whole has about 17% of population below the poverty level, and that includes Ithaca, so assume somewhat higher numbers for Dryden. Our free-and-reduced numbers are about 44%, according to the 2010 report on the Dryden website. There are around 1800 students in the district. To be sending food home with 36 is only to touch 2%. My guess is that they could easily find twice that many just in the elementary school who needed the help. The incidence of dental problems is significant; thus, the toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Paul says that Newfield has something similar that they've been doing for about five years. Rural poverty is a bitch, and often invisible. When I volunteered at Caroline, teachers regularly bathed kids who lived in dirt-floored shacks without running water. I worked with some kids with rickets, which Paul's dad at the FDA had thought was largely eliminated in the US since the advent of vitamin-D infused milk.

Elizabeth said...

I'm curious about how it's handled. I monitor a few of my students who are free and reduced and they know they can come to me for snacks (not part of free and reduced here - there?) but it's a touchy thing. Maybe less so at elementary level, but at middle school you have to worry about doing it in a clandestine way. Is it obvious that these kids are getting the assistance?

A wonderful program. You can't move to expecting kids to think before you've made sure they have had something to eat. At my kids' school they have a community fruit bowl that is always full and available during the school day. I'd like to start that at my school where, Robert complains, the "bring a teacher an apple" has been reversed.

KAZ said...

It's just elementary here. Food is placed into the kids' backpacks by teachers at the end of the day. Although they are encouraged not to share, many kids can't wait to see what they got and take things out on the bus to look at. The stigma doesn't yet exist. Middle school's much tougher--it is harder to get kids signed up for free-and-reduced above grade 5.