Build a Sense of Community While Providing Snacks for Every Student
Have you ever sat through a meeting or activity when all you could think about was getting something to eat? If so, then you might wonder how a child’s focus is affected when he or she is hungry.
Many school children come to class with empty stomachs, even if provided with a free or reduced-price breakfast. If they are not receiving adequate food at home, a quick breakfast loaded with carbohydrates may not tide them over until lunch several hours later.
Before I began teaching, I worked as a classroom volunteer for my own daughters, and I saw how the poorer students wistfully watched the other kids eat their cookies, chips, etc. I vowed that when I became a teacher, I would make sure that no one in the classroom went without a small snack. On the first day that I began teaching, I supplied a large Tupperware box with popcorn packs, low fat crackers, and cereal and invited students to help me fill the box with other favorites when it was running low. In my weekly newsletters, I would acknowledge families who had helped fill the container.
For those students who did not have the money to provide a bag or box of something, I positioned a big pink piggy bank at the front cart for students to give a nickel, quarter, or dollar when they were able. “Priscilla,” as we named her, was never empty. When she became a little heavy, two students would count the coins. We would always be amazed at how much money was raised for me to purchase more snacks. This gave these students a sense of pride and ownership in the classroom.
In addition to adding snacks to the daily routine, I have also given students the opportunity to share in the responsibility of serving each other. So as part of their routine, two to three students are assigned as Snack Helpers on a weekly basis to pass out snacks to every student. This has become one of the favored classroom jobs.
In all of the years that I have been doing this, I have never had a child wish they had something to eat. I have ultimately modeled healthy eating while showing care and concern for my students. When families are given the opportunity to help and are thanked for their kindness, a hunger need is met, and a child is ready to learn.
About the Author: Lou Chafin is a third-grade teacher at Ruffner Elementary, a Title 1 School and West Virginia School of Excellence in Charleston, West Virginia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in K-8 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in communication from West Virginia University. Chafin is a member of the county cadre for the Positive Behavior Support Program and is also the coordinator of the program in her school. Chafin has been a classroom teacher at the intermediate level for six years, and her other career experience includes teaching preschool students with special needs and serving as a school librarian. Her philosophy in teaching is that “all students show respect and are respected when they are allowed to be an equal contributor to the classroom by serving and being served.”
We want to thank Lou Chafin for her wonderful contribution to A Learning Experience! She was awarded a $35 School Box gift card for being selected for publication on this online newsletter. To find out how to submit your own classroom ideas or insights for review, please click here.