CISNT- Rotary Food Pantries- New at DeLay Middle School
Across Denton County, 14% of the population suffers from food insecurity, according to a study by Feeding America in 2017. Additionally, Feeding America found that of children who are food insecure in Denton County, 54% are not likely to be eligible for assistance. The Lewisville Independent School District's feeder pattern culminates with the following three high schools: Lewisville High School, Killough High School, and Harmon High School. The following middle schools feed into these high schools: Durham Middle School and DeLay Middle School. Among these five campuses, 67% of students qualified for free and reduced lunch during the 2018-2019 school year, indicating that their family was economically disadvantaged. With poverty also comes the crisis of food instability, extreme mobility, and malnutrition.
A report from No Kid Hungry explained that children who go hungry are more likely to experience health challenges, such as getting sick more often and suffering from "developmental impairments that limit their physical, intellectual and emotional development," as well as educational barriers, including lower academic achievement and increased social and behavioral issues, (2009). No Kid Hungry also found that adults who experienced hunger as children are less prepared for the physical, mental, emotional, or social challenges of the workforce, (2009). Additionally, they "create a workforce pool that is less competitive, with lower levels of educational and technical skills," which reduces their economic potential.
According to Thirty Hour Famine (2017), the following can happen to the brain if food insecurity and hunger are left unaddressed:
• Hunger delays development on the cognitive, social and emotional level. This includes reading, language, attention, memory and problem-solving capabilities.
• Hunger hinders our ability to focus and study. Children who experience hunger early on are more likely to perform poorly academically, repeat a grade and/or require special assistance while in school.
• Each year, as a result of vitamin A deficiency, more than 2 million children experience severe eyesight issues and some are permanently blinded.
• Hunger results in a lower IQ and less developed brain matter then well-nourished children.
• Hunger and stress effect the functioning of the brain that determines decision making.
• A lack of necessary protein, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that contain the energy people need to lead productive lives. Many people eat the same food every day and lack access to these nutrients.
• When children experience prolonged poverty and hunger, damaging chemicals are released in their brain.
The Lewisville Noon Rotary partners with local agencies such as Communities In Schools of North Texas, to not only bring light to this issue affecting the Lewisville community, but to demonstrate service above self by alleviating the need and providing healthy food to students who suffer from food insecurity.
MEETING THE NEEDS:
With funding from the Rotary Foundation, the Lewisville Noon Rotary will work closely with the Lewisville Independent School District, Communities In Schools (CIS) of North Texas, local food banks, and community volunteers to provide a food pantry during the 2019-2020 school year on five high need middle school and high school campuses. Four of the food pantries, including pantries at Lewisville High School, Killough High School, Harmon High School, and Durham Middle School, have been established with previous Rotary Foundation grants and Rotarian support and will be maintained with funding. An additional fifth food pantry will be established at DeLay Middle School.
Food pantries are stocked with healthy food, snack packs, and backpack meals that students suffering from hunger or food insecurity can have access to on a regular basis. Communities In Schools of North Texas and partner schools will assist in identifying students who struggle with hunger or food insecurity and will provide opportunities for Rotarians to set up, stock, and maintain order and supplies at the food pantries. The pantries will also be stocked with hygiene items and basic needs items, depending on the emerging needs from the campus, as assessed by the CIS Texas Site Coordinator. Located at a convenient spot on the school campus, students will be able to stop in, access this food, and return to class without missing instruction. Some students will be able to stop by and grab a bag of food to take home, if they will not have access to food over the weekend. Many students are in situations like this, where they are living on the breakfast and lunch provided to them at the school campus each day. Weekends and holidays, especially, are very difficult to navigate. Working in partnership with Communities In Schools of North Texas and the school campus, Rotarians will go to the school, stock and organize the pantry, and pre-stuff daily and weekend bags for students, addressing an essential and fundamental need for students and providing a great volunteer service experience for the Rotarian.
As soon as funding is approved, Lewisville Noon Rotary will purchase the food, hygiene items, basic needs items, storage shelves, storage boxes, bags, and supplies to organize and/or or re-stock the pantries. In general, the timeline of services provided to students aligns with the school calendar, with enrollment and initial services during August- September, continuing services through May of the following year.
HOW PROJECT FUNDS WILL BE SPENT:
Funding from the Rotary Foundation will be spent on essential items for the Rotary Food Pantries at Lewisville High School, Killough High School, Harmon High School, Durham Middle School, and DeLay Middle School. Items that will be purchased include:
- Healthy, self-serve foods, meals, and snacks. (This may also include gift cards for groceries and longer-term food needs for homeless and transient students.)
- Hygiene items and basic needs items such as deodorant, toothbrushes/paste, facewash, sanitary napkins, soap, etc and other needs emerging from the assessment of the school staff and CIS Site Coordinator.
- Storage unit, shelving, and bins to safely and sanitarily store food
- Bags for daily and weekend food packs
- Office supplies such as signs and tags to orderly label and organize the pantry
INVOLVEMENT OF CLUB MEMBERS:
We believe that the success of any project rides on the follow through. The Lewisville Noon Rotary club members will be involved in the purchase of the food, shelving, and supplies, the packing of the daily and weekend food bags, and the organization and set up of the food pantry- both initially and on a regular basis. Our goal is to achieve at least 100 hours of Rotarian service to the Rotary pantries by the end of May 2019.
Rotarians will also be heavily involved in the follow-up services that are required to ensuring student success by partnering with each school campus and local nonprofits such as Communities In Schools of North Texas. Rotarians will be encouraged to serve throughout the year in the following roles:
- Mentors, who meet with students once a week to discuss student progress and to provide encouragement, build self-esteem, and set future goals.
- Academic Coaches- who meet with students as needed to work on core subjects such as math, English, social studies, and science.
- Career Presenters- who come to school campuses to talk to groups of students about careers that interest them. Students will have the opportunity to discuss their questions with the presenter one-to-one following the presentation.
The Lewisville Noon Rotary respectfully requests your attention to these needs and asks the Rotary Foundation to provide support in the amount of $2,300 for the Rotary Food Pantries at five high-need schools in Lewisville ISD. The provision of basic resources which are critical to students' health and wellness will empower them with the tools to succeed in and outside of the classroom. The long-term impact of a successful education is our goal and will be key for students to break the cycle of poverty and to reach their full potential in life.