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‘Food For Thought’ helps Marysville students
MARYSVILLE — It began near the end of the last school year with 20 grade school students, but by the end of this school year the coordinators of the “Food For Thought” program, courtesy of the Marysville Community Food Bank, hope to be serving four times that number of students.
Marysville Community Food Bank Director Dell Deierling credited area college student Charlene Greene with taking “Food For Thought” from a list of ideas and turning it into reality.
“The idea came about when I was invited to a kindergarten orientation for parents and children, and some of the principals told me that they knew a few of their kids weren’t getting meals between when they went home in the afternoon and when they came back to school the next morning.”
Deierling noted that the proposed program met with much interest by Marysville school staff members and almost immediate approval by the Marysville Community Food Bank Board of Directors, which led to its implementation for 20 students at Liberty Elementary in the final weeks of the 2011-12 school year.
“They were chosen through input from their teachers, counselors, principal and lunchroom staff,” said Amy Howell, whom Deierling credited with carrying on the “Food For Thought” program ever since Greene moved onto other projects. “Their families sign permission slips to approve them for the program, and nobody above the school level knows which students they are, aside from the ones that I’ve met with personally, so nobody feels like they’re being singled out.”
“Charlene was the nucleus for this program, but Amy’s kept it going,” Deierling said. “Amy’s heart has been in this issue for a long time.”
Deierling noted that 20 percent of Snohomish County children, or approximately 36,000, suffer from “food insecurity,” which is defined as not knowing where their next meals will come from. He and Howell agreed that “Food For Thought” should help hungry students to become more productive, by allowing them to focus more on their studies than on their stomachs.
“I’ve gotten hugs from kids who have told me that the food was awesome,” Howell said. “I’m not sure people realize just how many hungry children there are out there. They’re our future, so we need to take care of them.”
With the recent addition of a $3,000 grant from the city of Marysville, “Food For Thought” has the capacity to double the number of students that it serves, but its coordinators are still working with the Marysville School District to determine which other schools might be served by the program. Howell’s goal is to be serving 80 students through “Food For Thought” by the spring of 2013, but she acknowledged that many meals will cost nearly $21,000.
“Do you have enough to feed your children over the weekend?” Marysville Community Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator JoAnn Sewell, Howell’s mother, asked rhetorically. “Because a lot of parents don’t.”
Donations may be made out to Marysville Community Food Bank and sent to P.O. Box 917, Marysville, WA 98270. If you would like to designate your funds specifically for “Food For Thought,” please write in the memo line of your check the program you wish to support. Donations may also be made online at http://marysvillefoodbank.org via PayPal.