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Programs in the Classroom Provide New Way of Fighting Hunger
By Latasha Causey, Co-Chairwoman
Jenny Holsman Tetreault, Co-Chairwoman
Valley of the Sun United Way’s Women United
Hunger is a symptom of poverty — and perhaps the most distressing one. Its effects on the children and families that experience it can be devastating and demoralizing.
A hungry child has a harder time learning, growing and developing. They are more at risk for falling behind academically in school, and they are even more at risk for health issues during their childhood and later in life.
For parents, the challenge of hunger can be overwhelming. How do you choose between feeding your family and paying your bills? What do you do when you just can’t do it all?
We work as part of a group called Women United, which brings together women who are community leaders from all walks of life to help support United Way’s mission of fighting poverty in the Valley.
We’ve seen first-hand how critical this effort is. One in four children in the Valley of the Sun experience hunger, and many are unsure of where their next meal is coming from.
That’s why United Way is focusing on providing food to them in a place where it’s easiest to help them — in the classroom, where they can be reached five days a week and prepared for their weekend. United Way provides assistance to these children and their families in two innovative ways:
• Through the Breakfast in the Classroom program, which provides students in more than 130 schools throughout the Valley with a nutritious breakfast to start their day. Many of these students would not otherwise be able to eat breakfast — and when children don’t have a nutritious breakfast, it’s harder for them to learn and succeed.
• And, through the Weekend Hunger Backpack program, which provides thousands of students annually with food they can take home to their families every Friday, giving them resources to ensure they have some food to make it through the weekend.
By providing these programs in the classroom, United Way is taking the fight against hunger to the front lines. And it’s working — last year, more than 130,000 meals were provided as part of the Weekend Hunger Backpack program, and the Breakfast in the Classroom program served more than 70,000 students.
But there’s still more to be done. That’s why Valley of the Sun United Way and Women United is presenting “We Are UNITED,” a luncheon to raise funds to fight hunger in the classroom taking place on Friday, May 18 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.
We look forward that day to hearing from our incredible keynote speaker, actress and singer Vanessa Williams, on her own philanthropic efforts. But just as much, we’re can’t wait to bring together hundreds of people from throughout the Valley to advance the fight against hunger and poverty.
The need is great, but so is the opportunity — with the support of our community, we can help tens of thousands of Valley families overcome hunger with the help of these programs. We invite our community to rally around this cause and be part of this effort. You can learn more at vsuw.org/luncheon.
We hope to see you there. And we look forward to a day when the fight against hunger has been won, thanks to the generosity of our friends and neighbors and the strength of the communities in which we live.