33_20140324071332_1761368_large[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=Kendra Randazzo began her education career in the classroom, teaching for five years before deciding to change tracks and become a school counselor. “I saw that many of my students required basic needs met before they could focus on learning. As a school counselor, I have the opportunity to help them overcome the obstacles that stand in their way, and I can give them the individual attention that I couldn’t in the classroom.”

Teachers are on the front line of recognizing signs of hunger, and now Kendra gives those teachers the red flags to look for: hoarding food, coming in to school starving, hiding food, eating large amounts when given food. They also watch for students who wear clothing that doesn’t fit, shoes that are torn apart or have poor hygiene as they also be experiencing financial burdens and benefit from the extra food.

Kendra feels the biggest obstacle to teaching these children is getting them to a place where they can learn. Many of them have so many responsibilities at home and/or have experienced some sort of traumatic event, she says, and learning is the least of their worries. School should be a safe, nurturing environment, so that the kids can start to relax and be kids.

Being able to provide extra food promotes a positive relationship between the school, Northwood Elementary families, and the community. The extra food provided by BackPack Beginnings gives the children something to look forward to each week and some relief for the parents.

Kendra shared a recent story about one of her kids. “There is a 1st grader here who showed signs that there may not be enough food at home, and we recently sent him a permission slip to join the program. The mother signed the slip and added a note to the teacher to say how much help this is to her. She penned a “God Bless You” on the bottom of the permission slip. We are so grateful to be a part of BackPack Beginnings.”

Written on 3/24/2014 by Blogger Melissa Hassard[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]