Hunger in the Classroom
Like a lot of kids her age, Colorado elementary school student Rosie Casey sometimes loses focus during class. Her teacher, Leslie Nichols, who is used to students occasionally daydreaming during lessons, taught Rosie an exercise to help her concentrate. Leslie told Rosie to write the word "focus" on a little sticker and look at it every time she felt her mind start to drift. Still, Rosie struggled to pay attention.
"I just really felt she wasn’t really applying herself in the classroom and I couldn't figure out where that attitude was coming from," Leslie says. The teacher later learned that when Rosie stared off into space for long periods, it wasn't because she was thinking about cartoons, or her friends, or activities. She was thinking about food.
"I struggle a lot and most of the time it’s because my stomach is really hurting," Rosie says. "I start yawning and then I zone out and I'm just looking at the teacher and I look at her and all I think about is food. Sometimes when I look at her I vision her as a banana so she goes like a banana and everybody in the class is like apples or oranges and then I'm like, oh great."
Rosie has a network of caring people in her community that provide her and her family with food. Her pastor, Bob Wilson, runs a food pantry at the family's church; Leslie delivers food to Rosie’s home each week in an effort to help her stave off the hunger that could prevent her from reaching her full learning potential. Still, it's not enough. The work of churches and food banks and good Samaritans is vital, but it isn’t enough to combat hunger, not at a time when the need for food is so great. In order to help Rosie and children like her, federal safety net programs that help families lift themselves out of poverty must be protected.
Rosie is one of the people profiled in the new documentary A Place at the Table, coming to theaters, iTunes, and on-demand on March 1, coinciding with Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters, also called "A Place at the Table." For more information, visit the Offering of Letters webpage: www.bread.org/ol.