Food Banks Take on Back to School: 4 Ways They’re Feeding Kids

The COVID-19 pandemic means back-to-school may look a lot different this year. Schools and parents are facing difficult choices about how best to keep kids safe this school year. Districts are choosing between in-person instruction, remote learning or a combination of both. And we are all feeling uncertainty about the future. Will my child be safe at school? Will they learn what they need to if they’re at home? How long will this go on?

Feeding America estimates 1 in 4 children could face hunger in the wake of the pandemic, and that includes many children relying on free or reduced-price meals at school. Parents of those kids are asking all the same questions everyone else is. But they’re asking one more: will I be able to feed my children this fall?

Feeding America and food banks across the country are busy making preparations to ensure kids have the food they need as they return to school; no matter what form school takes –virtual or in-person.

Four ways food banks are helping to feed kids and their families this school year:

1. BackPack Programs are providing kids with food to take home on weekends

Many food banks across the country run BackPack programs, which provide shelf-stable food for kids to take home on the weekend. If schools go virtual, families will be able to pick up this food at convenient community sites. Food banks are adapting to meet that challenge this year, including Northern Illinois Food Bank, which is providing students with bags that have sturdier handles to make picking up food or bringing it home from school even easier.

2. Drive-thru and contact free food pickup at local schools

Food banks are partnering with schools – even if they aren’t seeing kids in the classrooms – to give food to families of students using contact free pickups. Schools and food banks often give out fresh produce, meat, and pantry staples like pasta, peanut butter, canned fruit. At some pickups, families are not required to attend the school hosting the pickup.

For example, San Antonio Food Bank partners with a middle school that won’t be reopening immediately in the fall, but food distributions are continuing. “Pandemic or not, kids shouldn’t have to worry about going to bed hungry,” said Irene Alvarez, who manages the school’s food distribution.

Meanwhile, other food banks, such as Second Harvest Middle Tennessee, are adapting by providing schools with food each month that they can distribute to families as needed – including 30 schools in and around Nashville alone.

3. Bringing food directly to kids and families at their homes or bus stops

Food banks and their partners are working hard to make sure kids and families have food this school year and this sometimes means bringing food directly to homes or creating pop-up food pantries in neighborhoods.

For example, one pantry working with Feeding America West Michigan is using a school bus to deliver food to children in their school district. The pantry compiles a list of families that sign up in advance, they load the bus with food and make deliveries at three locations every week.

Similarly, Long Island Cares is delivering food to kids with a mobile breakfast program. Called the Aspara’Gus’ Food Truck, the truck stops at a number of community sites on Saturdays and Sundays, distributing free to-go cold breakfasts to kids.

4. After school meals are filling the gap in the evening

As school resumes, so do after-school meal programs for kids that help feed children who don’t have consistent access to food at home. Because many after-school programs before the pandemic included hot meals in a group setting, food banks are having to adapt to make sure kids still have a meal option without needing to eat with a group. Food banks like Capital Area Food Bank are keeping open all their after-school sites and are offering a to-go meal that kids can eat at home.

How can I help?

  • Volunteer at your local food bank. Volunteers are an important part of packing shelf-stable meals for kids or families when school is in session. Find your local food bank and follow them on social media to learn what they need most as children return to school.
  • Encourage parents who need a little extra help to reach out to their local school to learn what the qualifications are for meal programs. More families may be eligible for school breakfast and lunch programs this year.
  • Raise awareness about free meal programs for kids. Meals for kids are available, but often parents don’t know where to find them. Check with your local food bank and your school district about how you can spread the word.

By Feeding America

We Can Stop Kids From Cheating in School By Eliminating the Need

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As a high school teacher, I’ve seen a lot of cheating. So much, that I’ve concluded most adults don’t realize how many kids, even otherwise good and honest kids, cheat in school.

If you think of cheating as simply acting unfairly or dishonestly to gain an academic advantage, many people reading this column might remember their own experiences cheating. Whether you actively sought to cheat, or the opportunity simply landed in front of you, many of us can recall at least one occurrence with vivid detail. Your heart raced, your palms sweated, and you felt that undeniable sinking in the pit of your stomach, all due to the fear of getting caught. Yet you still did it.

But why? Why continue the act even when the body sends all the signals identical to a near-death fight-or-flight response? For some, it may be for the sheer thrill. But I argue most people who are tempted to cheat choose the better of two evils, both connected to failure.

Today, more so than when you and I were teens, the pressure to excel is unbearable. From the parents who demand it and the peers competing for it, the colleges that require it and the “influencers” who embody it, the pressure to be perfect has become the driving force for many students. And when the need to maintain perfection trumps the actual learning that occurs, you’ll begin to override your body’s natural warnings.

Our kids cheat because they fear the consequences of failing. So many are raised in a bubble, completely protected from failure. Any time it may have approached, those around them, who love them very much, happily deflected that failure for them. So a disproportionate number of adolescents truly feel they are geniuses, that they can do no wrong.

Unfortunately, an educator’s job is to confront his or her students with challenging obstacles to overcome, and they won’t deflect that failure. This forces our inexperienced youth into a corner, and many react by ensuring their success by any means necessary.

I’m one of these educators, and I absolutely challenge my kids, but I made a decision a few years back that completely changed the culture of my classroom: I eliminated the need to cheat.

I made the decision that the goal of my science class was to learn and appreciate science. From that day, I recognized that to pull these anxious kids from the corner they’ve been trapped in, I had to entice them back to the center. I had to establish an environment that eliminated the fear of failing, and I did it with a few very basic but powerful methods.

First, I eliminated due dates within a unit and moved to a mastery grading model. There are many varieties of this, but in my model, the kids receive a list for the unit describing the tasks to be mastered by test day. For every activity, the kids were encouraged to copy from each other and work together, but their grades came from 30-second conversations I had with each student, when I’d ask a variety of questions to gauge their mastery on the topic. Completing an assignment meant nothing if it couldn’t be verbalized, so the kids quickly learned that copying without understanding was a waste of time in my class.

Then, I encouraged cheat sheets. I let students write or draw anything they’d like on the front and back of a 3-by-5 notecard. The card had to be hand-written and turned in with the test. Many teachers may argue that doing so would invalidate their tests, to which I say, if your kids can write the answers to your tests on a notecard, you write bad tests.

We’ve worked hard to build high-level questions that require students to expand beyond the basic content from a notecard, and the sheer process of internalizing and paraphrasing an entire unit into such a small space encourages that level of critical thinking for our kids; moving beyond comprehension and into application. Plus, I save their notecards and return them before semester and state exams, providing the most personalized, hand-written summative reviews they could ever create.

Finally, after taking the test once on their own, I let them take it again, this time in groups. After grading the exams, I assign them in homogeneous groups; As in one group, Bs in another, etc., but I don’t tell students their scores. Then, I hand them back their original exams to take again. They don’t know which questions are correct, so the intellectual debates that happen over each question are incredible. When they resubmit, the group score is averaged with a student’s individual score.

Of course, there are those who say we need to teach our kids responsibility, to prepare them for the real world by not allowing late work, cheat sheets or group corrections. But it’s these classrooms where cheating is rampant, and it’s specifically because no recovery is possible.

As for tests, consider what every major exam over the course of someone’s professional career has in common: SAT, ACT, CPA exams, MCAT, LSAT, teaching certifications. You can take all of these multiple times for full credit. So where did this fallacy begin that somehow my biology exam is more pertinent to their lives and future success?

In a world that’s constantly demanding risk-taking and creativity, we cannot continue to produce robots of compliance and task completion. As a young gymnast develops her technique, she rehearses in an environment developed to safely take risks, with balance beams low to the ground and foam pits into which she can fall.

So, too should be the goal of every classroom. When kids see that failure is recoverable, the demand to succeed the first time, by any means necessary, is eliminated, and they finally have the freedom to take a leap.

By: Ramy Mahmoud

Ramy Mahmoud is a lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas Teacher Development Center, a high school science department head in Plano and a two-time TEDx speaker. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/

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Why We’re Teaching Reading Comprehension In A Way That Doesn’t Work

As the documentary details, many teachers—and professors of education—are unfamiliar with the overwhelming evidence that systematic phonics is the most effective way to teach children how to decode written language. While there’s been some pushback, quite a few teachers who have listened to the documentary or an accompanying piece on NPR—or read the New York Times op-ed by the documentary’s producer, Emily Hanford—have expressed dismay that they were never given this information as part of their training……….

Source: Why We’re Teaching Reading Comprehension In A Way That Doesn’t Work

Four Education Blogs to Explore this Back-to-School Season — Discover

Whether they tackle tough topics or inspire better learning habits, these sites prompt readers to think, question, and engage.

via Four Education Blogs to Explore this Back-to-School Season — Discover

 

 

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