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Kroger (Earth Day)

You know how hard it is to get things done when you're hungry? Your head feels foggy, it's impossible to retain anything, and you end up having to redo simple tasks.

Now imagine you're a growing kid who's trying to learn new things in school. Suddenly there's a lot more at stake than a few hours of extra work.

Sadly, that's the reality for a huge percentage of kids around the world. 66 million primary-school-aged children across the developing world go to school hungry every day. Not only does this undernutrition cause a whole host of health problems, it greatly affects their ability to keep up with their studies.


A child in school in the Philippines. All photos via Kroger.

And when kids start falling behind in school, it's a devastating spoke in the vicious wheel of poverty. Lower cognitive function usually leads to an incomplete education, which then makes it near impossible for them to get a higher paying job.

So even though skipping lunch may not sound like that big of a deal as an adult, to a kid, it could be the thing that keeps them from reaching a life-changing level of opportunity.  

That's why Fairtrade USA — a nonprofit that supports small farmers around the world — helped start a school feeding program in their farmers' communities.

While it's a newer program, it's already making a huge difference in one local school in the Philippines — a group of over 7,000 islands from which Fairtrade gets its certified organic coconuts.

Kids at a local school in the Philippines.

The school itself is quite remote — the kids have to walk down long, winding, muddy roads everyday just to get there. Couple that with regularly hungry bellies, and you can only imagine what a struggle it can be for them to remain focused in class.

But since the school feeding program was implemented, their outlook and energy seems significantly improved according to visiting Kroger team members, who stock Fairtrade USA products.

"We saw bright, smiling faces and healthy children thriving," says Karrie Pukstas, marketing manager for corporate affairs at Kroger. "We saw such potential."

The school feeding program is on track to feed approximately 1,750 kids in 60 schools in these Fairtrade farming communities. That's a sizable step forward in the fight to give these kids a chance at a better life.

But it's not just about the kids and their futures. This program is impacting their parents in a big way, too.  

The kids weren't the only ones feeling the effects of going about their day hungry. Imagine being unable to provide your child the nutrition they need to function properly due to circumstances beyond your control. It could feel devastating.

However, thanks to the feeding program, some of that burden has been lifted off their shoulders. And when they get to see their kids revitalized and happy, it's a real confidence boost.

A father of a child in the school feeding program expressing his joy.

This relief would not be possible without grocery stores like Kroger making it a priority to stock Fairtrade certified products. And when you make the choice to purchase those products, you're not just supporting an organization that empowers smaller farmers — you're giving their children a much clearer shot at a better future.  

It just takes a moment to check a label, but that moment could change the course of a child's life forever.

Learn more about Fairtrade's school feeding program here:

Full stomachs mean better education.

These kids want to grow up to become doctors and educators, but right now, they are struggling to find their next meal.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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