Imagine going to school on an empty stomach and not having anything to eat for the entire day.
Well, for many young Islanders it is a fact of life.
That’s why Nicole Haire and her staff at Three Oaks Senior High decided to do something about it.
Haire, a veteran educator and principal at the city school, has taught throughout the country and saw countless students struggle through each day, trying to learn with no fuel in their bodies. The reasons were varied and the stories, most often, sad.
But it wasn’t until last year when a student approached her asking if there was a lunch program at the school that Haire decided something had to be done.
That’s how the In Our Own Backyard program was born.
About a dozen or more students at the school, thanks to donations from the public, the support of staff, many who have signed on to pack brown-bag lunches three times a week, now have a healthy and nutritious lunch every day.
The lunches may be simple, maybe a sub sandwich, a granola bar, apple and a drink, but to many in the program, including Adam (not his real name), the small offering has meant improved grades and a better outlook.
For these youngsters, the lunches are literally providing food for thought.
For Adam, whose mother had worked two jobs and, last year, lost one, it had always been a constant struggle to get enough to eat.
With bills to pay and limited funds, countless Islanders are like Adam and his mother — left with no other option than to decide between paying bills like rent and heat or buying food. Often, food comes last on the list.
All children, no matter their background, should be on a level playing field when it comes to education. They should all be equipped with the adequate tools to learn, including having a healthy lunch on a daily basis.
But, providing these lunches isn’t cheap. The school’s breakfast program and the lunch program cost about $13,000 last year alone. And with more students in need this year, the cost will only be higher.
In this day and age when we are constantly fundraising to help those struggling throughout the world maybe we should be looking closer to home and helping feed those close by who don’t have enough to eat.
A few dollars alone could ensure that a child in need has a full stomach and, in turn, the energy to learn.
No child should ever have to go to school hungry.