“This IS my supper. I don’t have food at home.” Jacob’s words still echo in Joy’s mind, reminding her that many of the Crooksville Elementary students rely on the afterschool dinners provided by Children’s Hunger Alliance.
For every day that Jacob attends the afterschool program – where Joy works as the site coordinator – she is reminded of the hardships facing the people in Perry County. Almost all of the students at Crooksville Elementary qualify for free or reduced-price meals, which means many of these kids rely on their school for breakfast, lunch and the afterschool program’s dinner for their daily nutrition.
After working in education for 17 years, Joy understands how building a positive relationship with the students is fundamental to their success. She makes a point of connecting with them, getting to know them and building their trust. That’s how she learned about Jacob’s situation.
She was making her rounds in the cafeteria, table to table, where students were beginning to unwind after school, socializing with their friends and eating their meals. Joy stopped at Jacob’s table. She noticed the third-grader was sullen and started a conversation with him. She asked, “What are you going to do today after you leave school?”
“I don’t do much. I’m not allowed to go outside the house because it’s not safe and Mamaw is afraid that I might get hurt.”
“Where are your parents?”
“I don’t see my mom and dad because of the bad choices they made. Mamaw takes care of us, but she’s tired a lot.”
After that unforgettable conversation, Joy went out of her way to check on Jacob daily. While he was trying to adjust to life without his parents and living with his grandmother, he was struggling in school, falling behind in reading. In the several weeks that followed, Joy and Louann, his afterschool teacher, continued to support Jacob emotionally while providing him healthy meals and helping him with his homework.
He never gave up and with the academic year coming to a close, Jacob has moved up a grade level in reading – a goal he’s very proud of accomplishing.
Recently, his grandmother approached Joy when she came to the school to pick up Jacob and his siblings and told her, “I don’t know how to thank you for helping my family. We don’t have a lot of money and the afterschool meals make a big difference to Jacob and his siblings. The three of them don’t come home hungry. Jacob’s just so happy that his reading has improved too! I can’t thank you enough.”
Joy held back her tears. As a mother herself, she couldn’t imagine not being able to provide food for her son. She’s grateful for the partnership with Children’s Hunger Alliance which allows the afterschool program at Crooksville Elementary to meet the nutritional needs of its students.
Jacob is just one of the more than 700,000 – or 1 in 4 – children in Ohio who are struggling with hunger. Our work at Children’s Hunger Alliance providing kids one of their most basic needs, food, continues to be urgent as families are recovering from the pandemic.
When you donate to Children’s Hunger Alliance, you’re helping improve the lives of children, like Jacob, giving them access to food year-round through our afterschool and summer meal programs.
Your good deed will make a difference in a child’s life.
President and CEO
P.S. – As the academic year comes to a close, we need your help to continue providing meals to kids this summer. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation by returning your financial gift in the enclosed envelope or by visiting ChildrensHungerAlliance.org/GiveMeals to donate online.