Filling the gap between learning and hunger

There are so many teachers, administrators and classified staff who are making a difference for children in our schools in Camas and Washougal.

These women and men are truly innovators. They are implementing new teaching methods, introducing students to the latest in technology and also finding logical solutions to real-world problems our youth are facing on a daily basis.

While some of those real-world problems are often rooted in situations that are anything but simple, the solutions for them quite often can be.

Such is the case with a program that has been implemented at several schools in the Camas School District.

The “grab and go” breakfast program started at Liberty Middle School for one reason: Then-Principal Marilyn Boerke realized that students were hungry.

Hunger, as many parents and educators know, can be a major stumbling block to the learning process due to its physical and psychological effects on young people.

Determined to find a solution to the issue at Liberty, Boerke tapped the expertise and experience of Nutrition Services Director Sharon Short. They worked together and decided to create a 10-minute window in the mid-morning of each school day where kids could stop by the commons area and pick up a snack provided by the school.

“The goal is to ensure all students have access to food, and we found that many students who ride the bus don’t get to school in time to get breakfast,” said Boerke in an article in today’s Post-Record. “Additionally, many teenagers aren’t able to eat first thing when they get up, while 10 a.m. has given them a chance to wake up.”

By all accounts, this simple program has been a success. At the end of the 2015-16 school year, it was being used regularly by 100 students. That’s 100 more students who were able to focus on learning, instead of hunger pangs. The benefits have extended to include fewer trips to the nurse’s office and fewer referrals.

Short sums up this simple solution to a significant problem in simple yet articulate terms: “What could be better than feeding more hungry kids?”