Updated on Aug. 20, 2014; 5:55 p.m. EST: Schools in the Ferguson-Florissant School District have remained closed. Classes are set to start on Monday, Aug. 25.
The city of Ferguson, Missouri, has been thrown into the spotlight this week, as several questions remain unanswered regarding the fatal shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. But while the community grapples with controversy and tragedy, some are making sure to prioritize the city's most vulnerable residents: its children.
Ferguson-Florissant School District announced Wednesday that, due to safety and security concerns, classes would not resume for the school year on Aug. 14 as planned, CBS St. Louis reported. The first day of classes has been moved to Monday, Aug. 18.
To many children in Ferguson, the elongated summer break is not cause for celebration.
Many students in Ferguson rely on meals provided in school, and the delay in the start of classes means more time having to endure empty bellies. That's why Fundly user and Raleigh, North Carolina, school teacher Julianna Mendelsohn partnered with the St. Louis Area Foodbank to launch a crowdfunded campaign benefiting hungry kids and families, WNCN News reported.
"When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability," Mendelsohn wrote on the fundraising page. "Many children in the U.S. eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry."
According to the Food Research and Action Center, roughly 21.5 million children receive free and reduced-price lunch at school across the U.S. Unfortunately, during the summer months, nearly 90 percent of them lose that access to free meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated. In Ferguson, where the poverty rate is about double Missouri's average, according to the Washington Post, plenty of children will stay hungry while schools remain closed.
As of Friday afternoon, almost $40,000 had been raised by more than 1,650 supporters across the country to go toward the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Money raised by the campaign will be used throughout the next year by the Ferguson-Florissant area to feed children and their families.
Mendelsohn expressed gratitude over the outpouring of support the campaign has received since its inception.
"When the Fundly CEO calls you at 8 p.m. and gives you his own personal cell phone number, you know you're working with great people," she wrote on the fundraising page. "This has been a tremendous ride ... I thank every one of you who helped in any way."
If you'd like to support kids in Ferguson, visit the Fundly fundraising page.
Support Ferguson by helping provide community building and mental health services through the United Way Ferguson Fund below.