In the summer of 2017, GEA received a grant from the Weaver Foundation to look closely at hunger as a barrier to learning in Guilford County Schools. Guilford County has several active nonprofit organizations working diligently to combat hunger; yet, based on available data, we know we can and should do more to make sure that our community’s children are well-nourished and ready to learn.
Why address hunger in relationship to education? The statistics are sobering:
- In Guilford County Schools, 67% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
- In NC, nearly 1 in 4 children are food insecure.
- Students who experience food insecurity miss more days of school, have lower test scores, experience more behavior correction, and often drop out of school at significantly higher rates.
- Greensboro has more than 17 food deserts, areas where access to food is difficult. Families must often take a bus to grocery stores and public transportation has limits on how many grocery bags can be carried. Or families spend extra money on a taxi or car service to bring food home, increasing the overall cost to their budget.
The issue of hunger is a complex one. As part of the Food Project, GEA collaborating with several existing organizations, including:
- Guilford County Schools
- A Simple Gesture
- Out of the Garden
- Backpack Beginnings
- The Volunteer Center of Greensboro
- Rock and Wrap It Up
During the 2017-18 school year, 6 GCS schools volunteered to be pilot sites for the Food Project with the intention of addressing issues of food insecurity within their individual school communities. Together, we will ask questions and seek out answers that match the unique needs of each school. Initiatives might include food pantries, community gardens, backpack programs and other solutions to increase access to food.
The Food Project is also looking at ways to better leverage existing community services through funding and staffing.
The Volunteer Center of Greensboro is coordinating community volunteers through the Reducing Hunger Through Service program. Click here to learn more about how you can be involved.
2017-18 pilot schools are: Bluford Elementary, Falkener Elementary, Foust Elementary, Hairston Middle, Hunter Elementary and Jones Elementary. To learn more about GEA’s work around food security and our schools, please contact Emily McCollum.