Submitted by WSC AmeriCorps member Sara Seelmeyer, United Way of King County
My name is Sara, and I’m an AmeriCorps member serving at United Way of King County through the Washington Service Corps.
One in five children in King County are food insecure, [and] the county struggles to connect kids to critical nutrition resources. As an AmeriCorps member, I serve in a United Way program called Fuel Your Future, which works to transform schools into nutrition access hubs for students and families. Each day, I [strive] to increase school breakfast participation, ensure that parents are [aware of] federal aid programs, and provide high-quality nutrition education to families.
At the school where I serve, more than seventy-five percent of low-income students who access free school lunch do not access school breakfast, due to a variety of factors. One such student was Mary, an energetic and sociable girl who complained each morning that she wasn’t able to eat breakfast because her bus always arrived at school after the cafeteria had stopped serving breakfast. One of her teachers reported this to me, with concern in his voice, saying, “She interrupts class each morning to tell me that she’s hungry, but I don’t know what to do.”
“She interrupts class each morning to tell me that she’s hungry, but I don’t know what to do.“
By working with cafeteria staff and school administrators, I helped change the school’s breakfast program, to ensure that every student – including Mary – has a chance to access breakfast in the morning. Now, more than a hundred additional students are accessing school breakfast each day, including Mary. Her teachers report that she’s doing better in class, and she seems happier, too.
My service in AmeriCorps has deeply impacted me, as I’ve begun to recognize that childhood success is a multi-faceted issue, and that solving one problem (such as hunger) can have ripple effects that spread throughout the rest of a child’s life. I am grateful that my service is ensuring that students have access to critical meals – and that it also helps them be happier, healthier, and more successful throughout the rest of their life, as well.