When I attended Ashley's ESY meeting last week, I learned something interesting.
No, it wasn't that ESY services will look pretty much the same for all students - the I in IEP apparently still doesn't mean anything after the 17 years Ashley has been receiving school services. No, it's not that ESY services will be shorter this year - I've come to expect that.
What I learned was that 43% of the students in Ashley's school are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. 43%! That's approaching half the student body. One of the school staff also shared the fact that many of those 43% have families that often go hungry - even some with two parents who both have a job. And with summer approaching, the number of children without adequate food will increase dramatically.
How could I not have known that? And now that I do know, what can I do?
The area which assigns students to Ashley's school is a middle class suburb. Residents have middle class white collar jobs or middle class blue collar jobs - or so I thought. Most of the houses in the area are older (1960's), brick homes, most with well-kept yards or apartment buildings, most of which rent for $900+ a month. The area is very diverse racially, ethnically and culturally. And crime, though there is some, is not violent or frequent. All these things seems to have lulled me into not even thinking that people could be going hungry, especially children.
However, eve with
that profile, children and their families are going hungry. What can we do?
I know there are food banks and churches that offer meals and food. But I think this problem needs a more focused and targeted solution. I believe our neighborhoods and schools should be full of people helping each other. And that's why I ask "What can we do?"
Seriously, what can we do??