(first published on WIvoices.org)
UPDATE: CLARIFICATION 5/3/12
WIvoices.org has removed this statement at the end of this article: “According to Farrington, this has come to fruition as every couple of weeks “there is no food left for the backpack program…so the teachers (help with) that.”
Farrington was referring to the recent across the board state cuts affecting the backpack program, not to specific cuts to her school district. Teachers use their own time and money to offset the cuts. WIvoices.org is responsible for all the information in this article.
Meg Farrington (29-year veteran teacher from Somerset, WI) explains that some students are struggling with hunger in school and how teachers have “stepped up to the plate” to bridge the gap and fill the need in the community. Farrington said “because of Governor Walker’s cuts” at the state level, consequences in policy choices have become reality for the most vulnerable children in rural Wisconsin.
For instance, public school districts have a cooperative agreement with social services to feed hungry children through a “backpack program” in which children are given food to take home over the weekend. I contacted Duana Bremer (local Director of Social Services) for comment, “the demand keeps going up and everything is more difficult”. Her crew packs over 900 backpacks/week for hungry children and issued a press release detailing the need in the community.
Before this backpack program, teachers and nurses reported that some children were “begging” for food, experiencing stomach issues, and were “agitated” and unable to learn due to hunger related issues. The backpack program eliminated these issues; however, due to budget cuts the program is now threatened.
WIvoices.org previously interviewed Bremer, on July 30, 2011 about this issue. At that time, Bremer worried that the backpack program would suffer due to the cuts at the state level.
Wanna help? Contact Duana Bremer @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for Farrington’s entire verbatim interview ~ to be released soon.