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APRIL 24, 2012 12:05AM

WI Teacher says “students aren’t being fed”

Rate: 26 Flag

 (first published on WIvoices.org)

Meg Farrington (29-year veteran teacher from Somerset, WI) explains that some students are struggling with hunger in school and how teachers have “stepped up to the plate” to bridge the gap and fill the need in the community. Farrington said “because of Governor Walker’s cuts” at the state level, consequences in policy choices have become reality for the most vulnerable children in rural Wisconsin.

For instance, public school districts have a cooperative agreement with social services to feed hungry children through a “backpack program” in which children are given food to take home over the weekend. I contacted Duana Bremer (local Director of Social Services) for comment, “the demand keeps going up and everything is more difficult”. Her crew packs over 900 backpacks/week for hungry children and issued a press release detailing the need in the community. Before this backpack program, teachers and nurses reported that some children were “begging” for food, experiencing stomach issues, and were “agitated” and unable to learn due to hunger related issues. The backpack program eliminated these issues; however, due to budget cuts the program is now threatened.

WIvoices.org previously interviewed Bremer, on July 30, 2011 about this issue. At that time, Bremer worried that the backpack program would suffer due to the cuts at the state level. According to Farrington, this has come to fruition as every couple of weeks “there is no food left for the backpack program…so the teachers (help with) that.”

Wanna help? Contact Duana Bremer @ 715-485-1221


Stay tuned for Farrington’s entire verbatim interview ~ to be released.

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Unf*ckingbelievable! As much I respect and revere those who are working hard to feed hungry kids, I despise anyone who does not want to help. This is so sad and embarrassing. I cannot believe how can Americans--most of which call themselves Christians--in 2012 stand by and let children go hungry.

Incidentally, years ago, I spent sometime in WI, and to my dismay and surprise, I found many of those right wing nuts who vote against their self-interest. Thank you, Heidi, for bringing this up. R
I'm with Thoth, Unf*ckingbelievable, indeed.

No child can do well in school when they're too hungry to concentrate. Good nutrition is absolutely essential for children if they're to grow up healthy and reach their maximum potential.

Makes me want to force Scott Walker to empty his larder to these kids. Every day. AND pass out food to each child. I know that hunger exists everywhere, but he definitely contributed to the problem you're reporting in Wisconsin.

Obviously, fetuses are more important than children. If these right-wingers truly cared about life, they'd be sure the necessities were there for the children that are already born.
May I ask what the NEA is doing? I'd really like to know.
Thoth and shiral ~ children and elders are the first on the chopping blocks, the public needs to be aware, listen, and care...like yah'll.

Ardee ~ like a farmer, John Shaffer, said in an earlier interview, "being pro-life should mean that you care about clothing, education, and feeding the child...that's what it should mean to be pro-life."

Daniel ~ I honestly don't know.
I'm glad comments brought up the pro-life irony. Now teachers will be adding groceries to their unreimbursed school supply shopping list.
Governor Walker heard of two children with a pet lamb and could not resist having his friends over for a feast. but sooner or later Samuel will come.
I would advise Wisconsin teachers who are going to be delegates to either their state Representative Assembly and/or the NEA Representative Assembly this summer to bring this concern, along with a proposed resolution, to those respective bodies.
I hate to say I'm not surprised. So much hidden and blatant poverty and hunger in our country. Damn shame.
Jesus...no words here. Being a teacher is hard enough without the challenge of having to feed your (how many?!) students as well. I thought WI was better managed than us down here, guess not. :/
What is going on in this country?
Absolutely shameful. And yes, Pro-Life should include those who are alive and needing help. They just don't get it.
This is the real face of austerity. Well done. The stupidity, like Scott Walker's administration, stops when we make it stop.

I admire their courage and resolve to make it work anyway. But how exhausting for the teachers to keep raising money and food donations in addition to doing their jobs which, we all know, are not 9 - 5 clock in-clock out. They are vocations.
As conservative as Tommy Thompson (he was governor when I lived in Wisconsin) he still had a lot of compassion for the people of his state. This guy is a piece of work.
Keep the faith Heidi, keep the faith.
Kids can't learn on an empty stomach. Kids that don't learn fail in life. Prisons plan their expansions based on the number of kids that dan't read by the third grade. So, I guess with the privatization of prisons having more illiterates is a good thing for capitalists. R
It's happening everywhere. I am a retired teacher now but my students knew where the ramen noodles and Capri Suns were. These had to hidden from the principal who didn't approve.
Yeah all the kids at our school get less to eat for lunch, we get at least half of what we got last year and then the kids who cannot afford lunch get two slices of bread, a tiny packet of peanut butter and a tiny packet of jelly. To drink they get a milk. That is it. This is ridiculous, and if we want more we have to pay them either from out school lunch accounts or cash.
Wow!, the gong has sounded ... wrenching. Heidi, excellent work in bringing real world news that may not fit the flavor of the day story. Good job. I think that the Salvation Army are the best at providing help, without bias or judgmental grind. Here, there were some groups that actually attempted running them off shopping area corners at Christmas. I love the idea of this being a year round mission. I will get this to some people that may help Duana's people. What could be more right? Thanks for drawing this out. You do a true service.
My 81 year old father packs backpacks every Thursday. The community in which he lives -- home of a Big Ten university and generally considered affluent by Midwestern standards -- has about 25% of elementary school children who are hungry on weekends. It is amazing to me that this is happening, and I'm glad he helps. (We do Food Pantry.
When the safety nets are gone, and the government budget is totally consumed by military spending, this country will implode, just like the Soviet Union. It is so sad. And the wealthy won't care--they'll take their millions (or more) and go elsewhere with it.

I wish I could help, but I am sinking fast myself...
Thanks so much Open Salon community ~ I can't wait to email this link to Meg so she can see the effects. She speaks so well for all of the teachers out there who care, and all the little people who need them most ~
I used to be a teacher and got used to packing extra food... What we see on the surface is worse as we dig down! My favorite part of your blog?? That ACTION part at the end!! Awesome!!
Since when was the purpose of schools to do something their parents should be doing? If their parents are too poor they can apply for supplemental aid.

The garbage that passes for food in schools - ketchup is a vegetable - should be reason enough for parents not to want it.
Harrison Price ( Waterhouse )
It's always great to see "compassionate" conservatives weighing in on poverty issues. Now that you've said your piece, shouldn't you be off somewhere evicting grandmothers?
Baltimore Areola ,

Were you by chance deprived of your mother's milk? Walker has slashed many from the social safety net. He must have missed you.
Thank you very much for posting this!
I agree with Thoth. And thanks for the article. Great job.
Maynard, glad you welcome debate. Thanks for not responding to what I said.

School food is garbage. The Government considers pizza a vegetable because it has tomato paste on it.

If parents can't afford food they can apply for supplemental assistance and feed their children better at home. Junior can eat all the fries and pizzas he wants for lunch but I don't k.ow why any parent would want their kids to eat crappy school food. If you've ever read what gets served its worse than what people in prison or hospitals get.
Just wanted to mention, it's true that many people who are eligible for SNAP (formerly called food stamps) may not be aware of it. Our regional food bank started a new program, helping people who need food sign up for SNAP and other social services. Here is where to find information for each state: SNAP

Basic info about SNAP, and SNAP in CT
Just wanted to mention, our regional Foodshare food bank started a new program to help people connect with social services, including SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). They've found it to be true that many people who are eligible for SNAP don't realize it. Foodshare info on SNAP

How to sign up for SNAP in each state; although it's a federal program, each state has its own application: SNAP by state
I'm a bit confused about why the schools are involved in sending food home for the weekend. I'm not saying they don't need the food, just that you probably ought to be looking for a different tool, rather than diverting education money. Why isn't foodshare-wisconson or TEFCAP a better way to handle this?
Heidi, it is obviously worse than we had thought. In Minn., there is a very similar issue of kids not only underfed -- but the time for lunch is cut down to a bare minimum. What sense does this make? And in a heavy farm Price Support state, too.
Where is Michelle Bachman when you need her?
after the past couple of elections and with all of the polarities between the parties, I signed up to get a few conservative newsletters...

so one came recently from Scott Walker....(!)

It made me think of you...

Dear Friend,

This is it. The Wisconsin Recall election is less than four weeks away.

The liberal special interests and Washington insiders have sworn to spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat me. I need your help right now to beat back this senseless Recall. Will you stand with me today?

For more than a generation in Wisconsin, the power of special interests and the liberal elite have gone largely unchecked. My Administration finally stood up to them, and we changed the way we do things in government in Wisconsin.

That’s why my opponents are so desperate to defeat me in this Recall. They want to roll back the clock and take us back to the days of skyrocketing taxes, bloated budgets, and unchecked and unaccountable spending. We cannot let that happen.

The moment I became Governor, I set about the work that the people of Wisconsin sent me to do. We eliminated the deficit left by my Democrat predecessor. We gave the freedom of choice to public employees. Our reforms have allowed public employees to decide if they would like to spend (in some cases more than a thousand dollars a year in dues) or keep their hard earned money. We finally put the control of state government back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

I kept my promises to the voters here in Wisconsin. I didn’t raise taxes. We have not had massive lay offs of state workers. Our reforms have balanced the budget and lowered the unemployment rate to a level unseen since 2008.

Now I need you to help me tell the out-of-state special interests that we do not want another tax-and-spend liberal in charge here in Wisconsin.

This Recall is not just about Wisconsin, it is about the cause of reform across this country

It goes on...by the way, that's not made up. That's the real thing.

Crazy how differently words/language can be used by those with different agendas.

Thank-you for this great post that shows the emotions/heart of those struggling to stand up for themselves politically. Excellent work, Heidi....