It’s 6:30 in the morning, and “Lucy” already is dressed and at the bus stop, ready for another day at school. She won’t return home until 4:30 p.m.—10 hours later. With just a lunch around noon, that’s a long time to go without a snack for the six-year-old child.
But every morning and afternoon, Lucy can eat an apple, gnaw on a granola bar or drink some orange juice, courtesy of the Northwest Indianapolis, Indiana, Kiwanis Club’s snack-collection project. The club sends fruit, nuts, water, juice, crackers and more to Pike Township Schools. The award-winning district is one of largest and most diverse school systems in Indiana, but many of its students face a number of challenges, including poverty. The high school alone has about 160 homeless students. The Kiwanis club’s food items, social workers report, are making a difference for students facing various obstacles in life:
- Teenagers are living on their own and don’t have money to buy food. Or they’re afraid to ask the people they’re staying with (for meals and snacks), in fear they’ll be asked to leave.
- A homeless student and her family are staying with a relative, but she refuses to eat there because the home has roaches.
- A school nurse was using her own money to buy snacks for diabetic students who need something to eat to maintain safe blood sugar levels. Now the school’s clinic has Kiwanis-provided food items to help these children.
- Every Friday, an elementary school sends home backpacks loaded with food supplies to help them get through the week. By Wednesday, the children—6 to 12 years old—are already asking if it’s “heavy backpack day,” because their family has run out of food. The Kiwanis snacks curb their hunger during classes.