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Hungry students can’t learn, say education leaders

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School Meals for All NC releases resources for advocates

Ask any teacher or principal, and they will tell you hungry students can’t learn.

But according to 2022 North Carolina Teacher of the Year Leah Carper, “feed them, and then we can teach them.”

School Meals for All NC is working to ensure all students in every public school have access to school meals at no cost to families. The coalition recently released a video featuring prominent educators voicing their support for no-cost school meals.

Here is a link to the campaign toolkit for partners and stakeholders, which in addition to the video includes posters for printing, social graphics, and social cuts of the video. The coalition also released these 1-pagers for advocates. And op-eds and opportunities for community engagement are on the way.

Monthly meetings for coalition champions are being held virtually on March 11, April 9, and May 13. Here is registration information.

Follow the coalition on social media @Schoolmealsforallnc on Instagram, @Schoolmealsforallnc on Threads, @SchoolMeals4NC on Twitter (now X), School Meals for All NC on Facebook, and School Meals for All NC on LinkedIn.

“School meals for all is a common sense and evidence-based practice to improve student performance, which is in everyone’s interest,” said Morgan Wittman Gramann, the organization’s executive director. “We know that we all benefit when every child has access to the nutrition they need to reach their full potential. North Carolina can ensure that all students have access to the most important school supply: school meals.” 

Upcoming N.C. Child Hunger Leaders Conference

The Carolina Hunger Initiative is hosting the N.C. Child Hunger Leaders Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Friday Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

Inspired by the summer Olympics coming up in Paris in 2024, the theme is, “YOU are the CHAMPIONS!” The website says, “In that spirit, we will be celebrating the champions across North Carolina who go the extra mile to make sure kids have access to healthy food.”

Here is the landing page for the conference, and here is the link to register.

Farm to School Coalition of NC

The Farm to School Coalition of NC is holding virtual, regional listening sessions. Here is more information, including links to register.

Universal free school meals and discipline rates

A recent article in Education Week, titled “Universal Free School Meals Might Improve Discipline Rates. Here’s How,” cited research that found that providing free school meals to all students lowers discipline rates regardless of family income.

The research was conducted by the University of North Carolina and the U.S. Census Bureau using data from Oregon.

The article features an interview with Thurston Domina, one of the UNC professors who worked on the study.

Here is the research.

Summer EBT: A national program worth watching

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nearly 21 million children in the United States and its territories will receive food benefits this summer through a newly permanent federal program, according to this press release.

Thirty-five states (including North Carolina), all five U.S. territories, and four tribes plan to be the first to launch the new, permanent summer grocery benefits program for children — known as Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT).

According to the Associated Press, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming chose not to participate in the program this summer.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.