Every night, hundreds of JMM students go to sleep hungry; often their last meal of the day is the lunch that they were served at school. Fifty percent of Memorial students are on the free and reduced lunch program and the number is set to increase. For those students, a snow day is “a day from hell” and breaks from school put severe financial stress on low-income families struggling to pay expenses. Food insecurity is a growing problem in our nation and in our very own school. Students often must wait eighteen hours between meals; this delay amounts to concentration difficulties and behavioral issues in class as well as additional stress. Mr. Dahmen and Mr. Camosy are on the forefront of this problem by trying to alleviate some stress on students from food insecurity by proposing a supper program. The idea for this came from the book Class and Schools, by Richard Rothstein, and from various schools across the country that have adopted such a program. Feedback from these schools has been phenomenal; teachers have reported increased concentration and less emotional flare-ups as a direct result from these programs.
The supper program will start on November 12 and will be held from 5:15-6:15 PM every Monday through Friday. Food will be available to anyone who is in an academically focused afterschool activity. Mayor Soglin’s hope is that this program will not only feed hungry students, but will also help close the achievement gap by allowing students the opportunity to access tutors and study skills sessions before food is served. Buses will available to those who need transportation after the supper. Volunteers will be in charge of setting up tables and chairs, serving supper, supervising, and cleaning up after the supper. Spartan Youth Service will provide many of the volunteers, but if you are looking to help out, there may be an opportunity. The number of volunteers needed depends on the number of students who come to the supper, a number we can only guess. Volunteers will need to be trained by cafeteria staff in the proper handling of food and sanitary conditions. The training date has not yet been determined but it will be on a Wednesday after school, according to Mr. Dahmen.
The funds for the program on Mondays through Thursdays are coming from the federal government; supper for Fridays will be funded by the United Way. Memorial will be the first high school in Madison to have a program such as this so it is critical that we be a role model for other schools, so that hopefully they will implement similar programs. By: Idris Boukahil
Categories: Student News