While most kids rejoice upon hearing the news of a snow day, many low-income children dread that phone call more than anything else during the winter season.
Across the country, more than 21 million children qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch, but when classes aren’t in session, these kids are at risk of going without food. While there are some systems in place for such situations, consecutive snow days, an unexpected storm that hit at the end of the month when money's tight, and the closing of emergency food pantries, left a number of communities in despair last week, Sarah Cook, a public relations specialist at Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, told The Huffington Post via email.
That’s when a group of local teachers decided to teach one of the greatest lessons of their careers.
When Principal Kyle Niederman was preparing to notify parents on Thursday night that Newport Independent Schools would be shuttered for a fifth day, he also put out a call for help to his staff members –- and for good reason, Cincinnati.com reported.
According to the Freestore Foodbank, about 100,000 children in the communities it serves in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
On Friday, more than 20 teachers and staff members trekked through sub-zero temperatures in Newport, Kentucky, going door to door to hand-deliver nearly 70 packages filled with non-perishable items, Cook said. Teachers and staff from Grandview Elementary in Bellevue, Kentucky, did the same.
The "power packs," which are provided by Freestore, are a staple for these kids who take them home on Fridays to help them get through the weekends, Cincinnati.com reported.
The organization distributes 4,500 of them each week, CEO Kurt Reiber told FOX19.
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Schools that were able to get special permission to open their doors to feed students capitalized on the opportunity.
The West Clermont School District in Cincinnati, for example, hosted a meal on Friday night for low-income students and handed out meals to take home, a gesture parents greatly appreciated, according to Local12.
“It's a wonderful thing because it's so hard for me to meet the needs and for my kids to come here to eat is very good,” Steve Stanley, a parent in the area, told Local12.
Cook said it was Freestore’s “innovative” approach that enabled the group to carry out a seamless operation.
By partnering with local groups that could host events to distribute food, the organization was able to dole out nearly 600 of its signature power packs.
Other cities that were slammed with snow and school closings followed a similar protocol.
In Roanoke City, Virginia, where about 4,400 children are food insecure, school was canceled all of last week, according to Feeding America.
On Thursday, a local mother of three and a few of her friends raised $1,200 to buy food for people in need in the area, and a local supermarket gave them a 20 percent discount on their purchases, WSLS reported.
The following day, the school district served free lunch at four locations around the city. At Fallon Park Elementary, 350 people showed up to stock up.
"It takes a lot to feed the children," Deborah Holly, who picked up food for her four grandchildren, told WSLS. "It takes a lot. And then trying to keep a roof over their head…It's just a lot when you've got several kids at home."
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