This plentiful food pantry isn't the site of a well-stocked shelter, but rather the cabinet in an Oregon teacher's high school classroom.
Katherine Gibson Howton shared this photo on Facebook, surprising parents with the generous supply of goods she keeps for her students. The pantry is always fully stocked, so that her pupils never go hungry.
“We are your children’s teachers," the photo's caption reads. "We know that we may have more time with your child than you do. We don’t want them to be hungry, and not just because a hungry child can’t learn but because we care about them. Hungry feels scary.”
Hunger, in fact, is a huge national problem among youth--according to Feeding America.org, 13.1 million children lived in food insecure households in 2015. Meanwhile, that same year, 14.5 million children under the age of 18 were living in poverty.
In line with these startling statistics, Howton revealed to Scary Mommy that 20 percent of the students in her school have housing insecurity and a high percentage qualify for free or reduced lunch programs.
"Children come into our classroom every day telling us they are hungry,” she explains in her post. “Many more never say a word because they are embarrassed, and it is up to us to notice that they are distracted, tired, grumpy. Skilled and compassionate teachers learn to ask if there is food in the house, and 'when was the last time you ate?' And the really skilled teachers just know when to make an extra sandwich, grab an orange, make a bag of popcorn or bowl of oatmeal, and set it in front of a student and tell them to eat.”
One day, Howton revealed that a student laid her head on the desk and complained of having a headache. When she asked her what was wrong, the student answered, "I haven't eaten all day."
Noticing how often the kids in her classroom were coming to school hungry, she inquired if other teachers were feeding their students, and discovered that many of them were--storing drawers full of protein or breakfast bars and cupboards full of snacks. Sill, Howton was concerned with how silent the issue currently stood.
“I asked my colleagues, ‘Do you find it weird that we’ve never talked about it?’ If we as educators aren’t talking about it, how could parents possibly know?”
In an effort to bring more awareness to students' hunger, Howton also shared her photo to the Pantsuit Nation Facebook page, where thousands of commenters have praised her and her fellow instructors for their compassion.
“It’s not about me, or my classroom, or this school--it’s universal," she told Scary Mommy. "I’ve even seen substitute teachers and administrators do it.”
What an inspiring, selfless movement! This truly does warm our hearts.
via Scary Mommy