I am a Grade One teacher. You can tell right away that I’m Canadian, as I’d be calling myself a First Grade teacher if I lived in the US. I have a delightful class of 6 and 7-year-olds who live in a rural area of Vancouver Island in BC. They are a happy, healthy bunch who come from loving, caring families. They come to school well fed with carefully packed lunches full of choices from all the food groups. Most of them also come with all their food in reuseable containers, packed by their environmentally-conscious parents who shun things like plastic yogurt tubes, plastic wrappers and drinks in single-use containers.
I’m a lucky teacher. I can start nurturing their minds right away, because they come to me with full tummies, having had a nutritious breakfast shortly before the school bell rang.
Not so in all areas of the world, however, or even in many areas of North America. I’ve also taught in schools where the only food kids had consumed since the dismissal bell rang the day before was a bag of potato chips and a Coke. The warm oatmeal served by the kind ladies from the breakfast program at that school may also have been the only comfort they had felt since leaving me then, too. But at least they had a school meal program to rely on to nourish their little bodies and their brains.
Childhood hunger is a global problem and there are millions of children all over the world who face hunger daily and have no one to guarantee that they will receive even one meal a day. This week I have teamed up with Nicole from The Giving Table and hundreds of other food bloggers not only to draw attention to this problem, but to do something about it. The Giving Table’s mission is to empower everyone to make a difference in the food system. Nicole has teamed up with The Lunchbox Fund, an organization that has been fostering education via nutrition since 2005. It provides daily meals for orphaned and impoverished children in townships and rural areas in South Africa.
This is often their only meal of the day.
A staggering 65% of all South African children live in poverty and almost 20% of all children in the country are orphans. That’s one in five. One of every five children has no mom or dad to come home to, no one to love them as a parent does. Many are living in households headed by 12 or 13-year-olds, just children themselves. Think of how traumatized your own children would be without you, and now imagine them with no food, living in a country where the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is taking their relatives and friends too.
Nicole’s goal is to raise $5000 with this campaign. This amount will provide 100 children with a lunch every day for a year. A $10 donation will go a long way to help us achieve this goal. Will you help? I hope you’ll consider giving up something, perhaps the latte you pick up on the way to work, and donate it to this cause instead. Just go here to donate.
The Lunchbox Fund identifies schools or forms partnerships with locally based NGOs or community organizations in order to evaluate and identify schools. It funds distributors to buy and deliver food, monitor the feeding scheme, use a Project Manager, and deliver reports back to them for evaluation.
Because this meal provided by this fund requires children to be in the classroom to receive it, they are not only receiving the nutrition their bodies desperately need, but an education that will help each child reach their full potential. And as a teacher, I know that the two go hand in hand. Hungry children cannot learn.
Parts of this video moved me to tears. When Topaz Paige-Green, the driving force behind the Lunchbox Fund visited a school in Soweto one day, she noticed a group of children sitting separately from the other children during break time. When she inquired why they were sitting apart, she learned that they had no food to eat, and they chose to sit away so they wouldn’t have to watch the other children eating.
Nicole has asked each of us to write a blog post to share a lunch idea. The sky is the limit here, but I’ve decided to share what I like to take to school for my lunch. I am NOT a morning person. I do not like having to decide what to pack in my lunch in the morning. If I can simply grab a pre-made lunch out of the refrigerator in the morning and go, my day is off to a good start.
These Mason jar salads were the answer for me as soon as I spotted them on Pinterest. I make them frequently, changing the ingredients, not only for variety but according to what I happen to have on hand. In twenty minutes on a Sunday afternoon, I can prepare my lunches for the entire week. That works for me!
In these ones, I’ve used ingredients for a Greek salad. With the vinaigrette on the bottom, I layered chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, red peppers,kalamata olives, feta cheese, some quinoa and greens. Once I give it a little shake to distribute the dressing, I’ll pour it onto a plate and enjoy my lunch.
There are only a few guidelines to make these successful:
1. Choose the right-sized jar. I use a pint jar for a salad, a half pint jar for yogurt with fruit.
2. Layer the ingredients with the dressing on the bottom and the more delicate ingredients like greens on the top.
3. Take a little care when you are filling the jars to make them visually appealing. Vary the colours and textures. Think about the protein you have chosen and choose ingredients to complement it.
4. Avoid ingredients with strong odors as they will intensify as the week goes on. Steer clear of eggs, blue cheese, or salmon, or just pack them separately.
Think about how lucky we are to be able to afford to feed ourselves and our children with nourishing food. Please consider donating, even a small amount, to this cause. I’ve made a $10 donation, and I challenge you to do the same. Thank you in advance!