Meet Principal Damon Lewis from Ponus Ridge Middle School in Norwalk, CT. Principal Lewis approached FITB this year to bring his students into our program, as he had identified a great need in his school. Due to FITB's size and distribution more than doubling in the past 7 months, we have hit capacity in both our warehouse and delivery vehicle. Luckily, we were able to solve the warehouse issue by "going vertical" but we still face the issue of distribution, since our van is just not big enough to handle any more cargo. As we explained this to Principal Lewis and told him his students would be on the waitlist until we could afford a bigger vehicle he volunteered himself to come pick up the bags from our warehouse every week. This dedication to his students is what warms our hearts more than anything. We all strive to make sure every child can experience a great childhood without worry and Principal Lewis is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that for his students.
Ponus Ridge is now apart of the FITB family and our weekly distributions. After the first week of having them in the program, we met with Mr. Lewis to learn more about why he felt so strongly about getting these kids into FITB, here is what he said:
Why is Ponus Ridge Middle in such need?
Over 70% of Ponus students receive Free and Reduced (F/R) lunch - that’s 480 of our 685 students. I can’t explain why Ponus is in such need. What I can explain is that our students and families are very appreciative of our staff, learning community, and FITB.
Why did you reach out to Filling in the Blanks?
I contacted our PTA and inquired about an organization or agency that had the potential to provide food for our students for the weekend. My PTA contact told me about your organization, and she arranged a meeting with a few of your staff members. I invited my school social worker to the meeting. Originally we were placed on a waiting list, but we said we were willing to pick up the food from your warehouse for our students and families. The rest is history.
Why is it so important for you to get our program at your school?
It’s important to have FITB at Ponus so our students and families can benefit from this amazing organization! Our students and families are the direct beneficiaries of your fantastic work. They don’t have to worry about having that “extra” meal for the weekend. They know it is coming from FITB.
How do you feel food and hunger relates to education?
Food. Hunger. Sleep. Stress. Our young people face plenty of adversity during their adolescent years. Being hungry in school, and not having food to eat is a barrier to accessing the education students need. It is very difficult for a hungry student to learn. Period. Students need to be well nourished and rested so learning is their central focus, and not where their next meal is coming from. FITB helps to fill that void.
THANK YOU PRINCIPAL LEWIS FOR BEING AN ADVOCATE TO YOUNG PEOPLE AND JOINING US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD HUNGER!