Filling young minds and bellies: CHS offers food to combat distraction from hunger

Many+teachers+in+the+high+school+have+started+to+offer+healthy+snacks+to+students+in+containers+like+this+one.++As+part+of+an+initiative+to+combat+the+distraction+of+hunger+in+the+classroom+setting%2C+these+snacks+are+available+to+anyone+in+need+of+a+quick+pick-me-up.+

Hunter Nace

Many teachers in the high school have started to offer healthy snacks to students in containers like this one. As part of an initiative to combat the distraction of hunger in the classroom setting, these snacks are available to anyone in need of a quick pick-me-up.

CHS is taking the initiative to ensure that students don’t have to go through the school day hungry.  

Starting this year, CHS has begun offering healthy snack items in classrooms for students to take. The program, organized by Amy Knapp, a counselor in the McGowan building, has been in place since August 2019. 

Snacks can be found in clear plastic bins located in the classrooms of the high school and the counselors’ office. 

“We find that students who are hungry are distracted in class,” Knapp said. “They don’t learn as well, they might get more agitated, they might get more tired, so the overall idea is that when kids are well fed and that need is met, then they can focus on other needs, like learning.” 

Developing this program has been an evolving process.

“We began by targeting students who qualify for free breakfasts but for a variety of reasons have trouble accessing that,” Knapp said.

But it became apparent that more students would want to take advantage of this situation. 

We find that students who are hungry are distracted in class. They don’t learn as well, they might get more agitated, they might get more tired, so the overall idea is that when kids are well fed and that need is met, then they can focus on other needs, like learning.”

— Amy Knapp, McGowan Counselor

“Some of the kids are accessing the food because they don’t have food easily accessible to them at home or it’s just a hardship for them to have snacks throughout the day,” Knapp said. “There are kids that may just be an athlete and they have really long school day and didn’t remember to bring a snack, and we want them to be able to grab a snack too as much as we are able to provide it.”

 Erica Schiffgens, an 11th grade English teacher, shares similar views, but from a teacher’s perspective. 

 “I have food in my room because I have noticed throughout the day that students often need a snack just to help them get through lunch or the end of the day, and I notice it helps them focus in class more,” said Schiffgens. “When a student is hungry, they are less able to concentrate on assignments, whinier, and I definitely think there are students who, every once in a while, do need that pick me up.” 

Students are not limited to just this program when it comes to food availability; they can also take advantage of the weekend bag program. This program is available for any student that may be in need of extra food to get through the weekend.

“I started [the weekend bag program at CHS]  in August 2019 but the other buildings in the district l have been doing that for many years,” said Knapp.  “And many other school districts do that. So that program, the Weekend Bag program, where kids can take food home for the weekend, that’s existed for a long time. 

“If any students reading this article want to receive a bag,” Knapp added, “all they have to do is let their counselor know and they can be put on the list for that.” 

The reception of both programs has been very positive.

“I think it’s very generous and creates a sense of relief to students who [may be] struggling at home food-wise,” said senior Edita Dedic. “It helps spark brain activity and helps give the motivation to learn.  It’s a helpful aid in learning, as well as to create a better environment for students and teachers.”

For more information about the Weekend Bag program or if you would like to help with this program, please contact Amy Knapp at [email protected]