Although Feed the Children works to alleviate childhood hunger by distributing food and daily essentials, the organization also believes education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s why the nonprofit has operated its Teacher Store location in Oklahoma City and at its four other distribution centers across the U.S. for a decade.
“It means a lot for us to work with Feed the Children to give these supplies to our students who need it most,” said Ben Hodges, principal of Mayfield Middle School. “Our students well-being and their access to important school supplies are our number one priority. Through our partnership with Feed the Children, we can relieve some of the anxiety our teachers and students are feeling about our new normal.”
With more than 473,000 Oklahoma children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch (approximately 70% of children in participating schools), many parents struggle to pay for school supplies, especially with the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Many times, that leaves teachers reaching deeper into their own pockets to purchase the basic items necessary for learning, spending on average nearly $500 of their own money to cover those expenses.
The Teacher Store in Oklahoma – located at the nonprofit’s headquarters – provides classroom resources, school supplies, books, personal care items and even snacks at absolutely no cost to teachers from more than 200 school districts across the state.
When it became apparent that the Teacher Store would not be able to open in August due to the pandemic, the nonprofit shifted gears by holding pop-up teacher stores in communities across Oklahoma including, Shawnee, Enid and Muskogee and the outdoor grand opening in Oklahoma City. In September, five Feed the Children semi-trucks crisscrossed the state delivering supplies to 10 school districts for the new school year. The items provided helped reduce the cost for educators and parents while ensuring students received necessary supplies.
“Our goal through our Teacher Store remains simple – to reach as many pre-K through 12th grade students as possible by providing the necessary tools,” said Travis Arnold, president and CEO for Feed the Children. “The pandemic has brought the importance of our work across America to light as many families face unexpected challenges. However, defeating hunger is something that we’ve been working diligently on for more than 40 years. One of the most profound ways to accomplish this is by furthering education.”
Last year, Feed the Children’s Teacher Store located in Oklahoma City hosted more than 6,500 visits from educators across the state. Nationwide, the nonprofit hosted 24,160 teacher visits and provided more than $4.7 million worth of classroom and school supplies as well as books valued at $7.6 million.
To learn how you can help, visit feedthechildren.org or follow them on social media.