Students can't thrive if they're going hungry. This nonprofit has a genius solution.

When you were in school, did you ever forget your lunch at home?

Since you'd planned on eating food from home, you probably didn't bring cash to buy a lunch, so you were stuck without anything to eat. Maybe you watched your classmates dig into their sandwiches, the smell of peanut butter and jelly making your mouth water. When your friends asked where your food was, you shrugged it off and told them you weren't hungry. But by the time you returned from the cafeteria, you were probably shifting in your seat, hoping nobody would hear your belly growling.

Cut to math class where you were likely struggling to pay attention long enough to solve even the simplest equation, too distracted by the emptiness in your stomach to concentrate. Maybe your teacher even caught you daydreaming, and you were too embarrassed to admit that you'd been thinking about what flavor granola bar you'd tear into once you got home.


Image via iStock.

But hopefully, you did actually get to eat that granola bar once you got home. Sadly, for many kids, that's not always the case.

In fact, for 1 in 6 children across the United States, hunger isn't just a matter of forgetting lunch when they leave for school.

These kids are dealing with food insecurity, which means they don't have reliable access to food.

In San Diego County alone, more than 400,000 people are considered food insecure, and of those people, 160,000 are children.

When that many children are affected, it really shows up in the classroom.

Feeding San Diego's Vince Hall visits Bayside Elementary School. Image via Feeding San Diego.

"When children are hungry, they can't perform in school," explains Vince Hall, CEO of the hunger relief organization Feeding San Diego. "They're not thinking about arithmetic, about literacy, about geography. They're thinking about being hungry."

While you might think fixing food insecurity is as simple as making school lunches affordable, addressing the problem is actually much more complicated than that.

The reality is that lunch isn't the only meal that struggling families have to worry about, and the cost of food isn't their only obstacle. When nutritious food isn't readily available, it also takes time and transportation costs to track it down. For struggling families, overcoming those obstacles can feel impossible, which usually leads to someone going hungry.

"You have mothers that are skipping their own meals to put food in the mouths of their children," Hall says.

That's why Hall and his team at Feeding San Diego are tackling all sides of the problem.

Image via Feeding San Diego.

Through Feeding San Diego's Feeding Kids initiative, they make nutritious food accessible by partnering with sites such as elementary schools, churches, and community centers and distributing fresh food to the families there.

"When parents are coming to take care of their kids' academic needs, they can also take care of their families' nutritional needs," Hall explains. In other words, rather than spending money to get to a place with healthy food, families don't have to go out of their way — the food is right at the school. And best of all, it's free.

Plus, since they bring the food directly to the schools, Feeding San Diego doesn't have to spend resources on its own storage facilities, which cuts down on costs and allows it to spend more directly on the services offered to families in need.

For example, at Bayside Elementary School — located in Imperial Beach, one of the poorest areas in San Diego County — Feeding San Diego opened a school pantry in December 2017 that essentially gave kids and their families their own version of a farmers market.

Image via Feeding San Diego.

Boxes and crates full of food were set up on the school's front lawn farmers-market-style, complete with reusable tote bags. Each family received about 20-25 pounds of food, including organic pasta, canned goods, and, of course, fresh produce straight from local farms.

Thanks to Feeding San Diego, families are already experiencing some promising results.

Feeding San Diego's surveys report that, among families participating in pantry sites, 88% report healthier eating behaviors such as eating more fruits and vegetables and preparing more food at home. Plus, 52% of parents reported improvements in grades and attendance, which should come as no surprise since having food to eat boosts mental health, concentration, and cognitive development.

Image via Feeding San Diego.

A school pantry can also change interactions between parents and administrators, Hall says, and help parents feel like valued members of the community. One principal told Hall that he's grateful to have moments with parents that aren't just about discipline or problems with students.

"There's smiles, there's handshakes, there's hugs," he says. "There's an incredible bonding that's going on between the families and the school staff … that brings a much more human connection."

Hall says he's even witnessed tears from parents who are relieved about being able to feed their kids nutritious food without breaking the bank.

Image via Feeding San Diego.

All families deserve access to nutritious food. With creative ideas like food pantries, we can make that possible.

For the low-income families who need fresh food resources the most, it's touching to have an organization like Feeding San Diego recognize the obstacles in front of them, and give them the chance at the healthy living they deserve.

And with greater awareness of what it takes to keep families fed, hopefully we'll be seeing more endeavors like this popping up all over the country in the years to come.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less

A vintage post-card collector on Flickr who goes by the username Post Man has kindly allowed us to share his wonderful collection of vintage postcards and erotica from the turn of the century. This album is full of exquisite photographs from around the world of a variety of people dressed in beautiful clothing in exotic settings. In an era well before the internet, these photographs would be one of the only ways you could could see how people in other countries looked and dressed.

Take a look at PostMan's gallery of over 90 vintage postcards on Flickr.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less