33_20130212194541_1001308_large[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=As a social worker at Irving Park Elementary School, Melanie Woodall spends her days identifying the needs of children and their families. She takes referrals from teachers, conducts home visits, and listens to her students. As a Title 1 school, the needs are great. The greatest of those needs? Food.

In her meetings with the children, she sees the effect getting a bag of food from BackPack Beginnings has on each child. For some it helps them to know that there are people who care. Others see that they are not alone and they find a sense of belonging in the fact that others are getting help too. For several, it has been a self-esteem booster to feel that attention. Most students have no problem with their classmates seeing that they are getting help. It is just part of their life. In fact, often they ask if their friends can help with the organizing and handing out of the bags each week. Many kids, like fourth grader Alyssa, are starved for attention and getting a bag is a reminder that she is not alone and it helps build her confidence levels.

Many of Melanie’s students receive free and reduced-price lunch and food stamps. They have food at home, but it is just not enough. That is why the help from BackPack Beginnings is so essential. For 25 of Melanie’s students, getting bags of food every Friday means the difference between going to bed with an empty or full stomach over the weekend. Without the bags, there would be nowhere else to get that much food and the need would go unmet. There are many issues facing the students of Irving Park Elementary. Fortunately, going hungry is no longer one of them.

All children’s names have been changed

Written on 3/11/2013 by Blogger Thea DeLoreto