It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and to celebrate we are spotlighting teachers who have helped make our Weekend Meal Program possible!
Lauren Stadler is a fourth grade teacher who has been with Roxbury Elementary School in Stamford, CT for 10 years. For the past seven years, her students have been receiving support from Filling in the Blanks. We asked Lauren about her experience as a teacher involved with the Weekend Meal Program.
What made you want to become a teacher?
Like many educators, I had a very special teacher who had a meaningful impact on my life. Mrs. Bambrick, my fourth grade teacher, always took the time to make me feel comfortable and included in her classroom. She created lessons and projects that were engaging, fun and cooperative. All of these things shaped my love of learning and made me want to become a teacher.
How did you become involved with the Weekend Meal Program?
The Filling in the Blanks co-founders visited our school in 2014 and learned that many of our students were coming to school hungry after the weekend and didn’t have consistent access to healthy meals. Mrs. Arnold and Filling In The Blanks began providing students with weekend bags that same year.
How has the Weekend Meal Program impacted you and/or your students?
Since 2014, many of my students and their families have benefited from the healthy meals included in the Weekend Bags. Alleviating the worry of food insecurity over the weekend and summer has really allowed for the students to come to school more alert and prepared to learn. In addition to the students being more productive in school, many parents over the years have expressed their appreciation to have healthy meal options to prepare over the weekend. The students are also BEYOND thrilled when they receive the very generous winter holiday gift bag!
Is there anything you've learned from working with this program that you didn't know/weren't aware of prior?
Although I always knew which of my students were offered free or reduced lunch, I was not aware that some of these same families do not qualify for federal assistance to help with weekend food shopping. Having Filling In The Blanks provide weekend meals has helped these families immensely and we are all very appreciative!
Sue-Ellen Barrett O’Shea is the principal at Marvin Elementary School in Norwalk, CT. We asked Principal Barrett O’Shea about how FitB has impacted the students in her school.
What was the nutrition assistance like in your school prior to the receiving assistance from Filling in the Blanks?
We were fortunate to have the Backpack Club prior to Filling in the Blanks to provide food to students. However, we were unable to add additional students to the program once it started, so the staff donated food items to ensure that as many families who requested help were provided with assistance.
How have the children who are supported by FitB been impacted?
FitB provides children/families with assistance obtaining food during weekends when breakfast and lunch are not being available. This provides the school with peace of mind that all of our children are well fed during the two days they are not with us.
Do families sometimes not know that there is a program to feed their children over the weekends?
We have informed all parents who are considered as receiving free and reduced lunch (even though all students this year receive free lunch) and have given them the option of joining the program. Our numbers have increased immensely!
Why is FitB a necessary and powerful part of the community?
Luckily, we were a part of FitB during the pandemic. Once things settled down, with a little push from Deena, we had the food delivered to the school and then delivered the food to the homes of the students. Many families expressed their thanks for the food during such a difficult time. Now, while things are better, the food continues to provide much needed assistance to our families.
In addition, to the food, FitB has also provided students with backpacks, school supplies, books, and gift cards which families have found to be helpful and much appreciated.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of the amazing teachers who go above and beyond to teach and care of our students. This week, we celebrate you — thank you!