Less than one hour north from where I am writing this blog sets the community of Lamar, Missouri. For you history buffs out there, our 33rd President of the United States was born in Lamar…Harry S. Truman. In 1946, Missouri’s native son, President Harry S. Truman, signed into law the National School Lunch Act (NSLA) which provided funding for lunchroom equipment for schools, as well as free or reduced-price lunches to children in need.
A sign of the times, the tone of NSLA was serious in nature. Section 2 of NSLA reads: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children…”(1). A measure of national security…interesting.
Nationally, the number of children living in poverty continues to climb. In 2013 the percentage of children who qualified for the National School Lunch Program crossed a new threshold. For the first time since its inception now more than 50% of our nation’s schoolchildren come from qualifying households (2).
Unfortunately, children with empty stomachs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unfulfilled needs of our children. The growing challenge for educators is figuring out how to meet those needs quickly utilizing already limited community resources.
Bright Futures USA is a national not-for-profit currently working with 51 communities in 8 states across the country serving close to 250,000 students. Many of these communities far exceed the national average for children living in poverty. What continues to amaze me is that even in communities that are under-resourced they are figuring out new and creative ways to meet children’s needs quickly.
Just imagine communities, both large and small, working together to find ways to meet the basic needs of any child in less than 24 hours. To take it a step further, the systems communities are developing as a part of the Bright Futures Framework in many cases can now meet those needs in less than 15 minutes! The three-tiered system developed by Bright Futures USA and now replicated across the country with amazing results consists of effective communication, utilization of local resources, strong social media networking, volunteer support, and local leadership.
These communities are taking care of their kids. Teachers in these communities no longer have to “pass the hat” during lunch to meet those needs on their own. In these communities, teachers can now get back to teaching. As for the children? They can now focus on learning, knowing they are loved and supported by the community.
Join the movement! Learn more at http://www.brightfuturesusa.org/