No Student Should Go Hungry at Washington Local
OPEN LETTER & PETITION FOR: Current & Past Parent(s) of Jackman Elementary School
Jackman Elementary School parents have provided an amazingly wonderful support system among each other on and off social media, especially Facebook. There are various postings of fundraisers, Q & A’s, school functions, activities, asking/offers for help, etc. We love this community very much so that we have this beautiful idea our children are literally ideal to the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We’ve had one discussion that crept up from time to time until the last few days, it needs to be addressed.
Last year, our community especially in northwest Ohio (and beyond) felt so blessed to receive meal distributions when the pandemic impacted us. This year, we are grateful for the opportunity that many of the students get free lunches. Some parents had the idea that their children would have more time to eat by bringing packed lunches.
We’ve begun to notice our children are coming home with their fully packed lunches, showing only several bites of an entire meal. Over the years, parents scolded the kids to be sure they actually eat what was packed and in return, the kids expressed some troublesome issues which may have stemmed directly from the school cafeteria.
We listened to two of the most, increasingly common complaints from our students as examples:
Packers: “I would wash my hands, get the lunch bag, go in to sit down. Then I open the bag and start eating, the teacher shouts, “You have 9 minutes!”. Then shouts again, “Ok, time to clean up, put away the food.” I am trying to hurry but I CANNOT do it!”
Buyers: “We are in the back of the line to get food. Finally, it’s my turn to get food then go to the table and someone said, “Hurry up, it’s almost time to go for recess.” But I just started chewing.”
Listening to the rest of our children’s stories that came forward is quite difficult to hear. As we discussed these concerns, remembering how we scolded the kids; kind of ironic to say that our stomachs have dropped. It’s an understatement to say how bad we feel about all of this.
We, the parents, caregivers & guardians of students currently attending all (or have attended in the past) Washington Local Schools; are coming together and voice our concerns. It has come to our attention that neither the free school lunches nor packed lunches were providing our students the benefits of eating well.
The majority of the discussion was focused on our elementary school students of the WLS district. It’s come to our attention that it’s not only impacting our elementary students but it has somewhat extended well into our junior high and high school students as there are few reports of this. This issue is not new or recent. There are so many words to describe how upsetting this is to hear this from young students currently attending Jackman Elementary School and in turn, has raised questions that cannot be ignored.
Are the tax dollars going toward these free lunches, placed on cafeteria trays being dumped into the trash bins?
Are parents wasting their time and money, putting all their love and thoughts into fully-packed lunches being returned home with only 2 bites into a sandwich?
Are the free lunches for all students causing a backup of students waiting in very long lines?
Was there a plan in place for Washington Local Schools to prevent this massive food waste?
If we are truly in favor of fighting childhood hunger, why are we encouraging our children to resume their afternoon school hours; lacking energy, focus, proper nutrition & not eating consciously by eating too fast?
Is a measly 15-minute (or 20-minute) lunch period REALLY sufficient enough time to actually sit down and complete an entire meal?
If the lunch period becomes extended, will the WLS board reduce its recess time or assess their curriculums whether adjustments would be needed?
The Centers for Disease Control and pediatricians have had written many articles, recommending appropriate nutrition as advised for children in & out of schools. What barriers, if any, are preventing our schools from doing so during school hours?
Long, hard, and thorough (but good) questions, eh? I’m pretty positive there may be several more questions that would maybe be mentioned in the comments of this petition.
It may not be surprising that the lunch period time has shortened over the years to put in more time for learning. However; in childhood education & learning, it is common awareness that a brain cannot be fed well on an empty stomach.
Many schools across the United States, the State of Ohio, and the Board of Education have focused too heavily on what goes into students’ lunches and minimized their meal schedules. Surely a challenge, but depriving our students of proper meals does not sit well with me and many others. I firmly believe this has to change at some point. Let’s start now.
We strongly believe that Washington Local Schools can become a shining example that our community can make changes by being receptive to our concerns. The time is now, to come into an agreement to create a new plan and set them into place. The sooner these positive changes happen, the better it would be for the future of our children.
After all, in the Superintendent's closing message of emails quoted, "Every Student Matters; Every Moment Counts!" Agreed?
Today, I am signing this petition, for our Washington Local School district:
- To advocate and promote healthy eating habits that lead to a strong, and supportive learning experience as a whole.
- To take the pledge in maintaining the fight against child hunger and consider reducing or eliminating food waste.
- To request that the Washington Local Schools’ board and administrators would consider the possibility of increasing the twenty (20) minute lunch period by approximately ten (10) minutes. No more and not less than thirty (30) minutes, including but not limited to, from the start of opening its cafeteria doors to the end of clean-up time.
- To take into consideration that if and when the Washington Local Schools’ board and administrators agree to extend its lunch periods; all of our elementary students’ recess shall not be compromised.
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PSA video from a Jackman mom: https://youtu.be/Lrm_JtSxqKM
EDIT TO ADD 9/3/2021; July 2019 written by the Centers for Disease Control (pre-covid https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/schoo...
References to articles supporting kids deserve extended lunch periods:https://www.edweek.org/leadership/why-20-minute-lu...
Food waste + short mealtime as mentioned in a government article here: