BATTLING ABSENTEEISM WITH FOOD
If you’re hungry, it’s hard to concentrate on anything, let alone lessons about computer science or a foreign language.
21-year-old Anthony Fuentes from Fair Haven knows the feeling. He begins his day at the Adult Education Center in New Haven at 9 in the morning and some nights he doesn’t leave until 7 o’clock.
The school doesn’t have a cafeteria for students. Most classrooms have mini fridges, and teachers would spend their own money on food for hungry students.
While there are nearby eateries, as well as an on-site vending machine, some students simply couldn’t afford it.
The school’s principal realized that lack of food was negatively affecting attendance. She reached out to officials at New Haven Public Schools, who connected her with United Way.
Recognizing the importance of attendance and getting a high school degree, we mobilized non-profit partners to help these students.
As a result, the school now has a free and healthy snack program.
“It’s great. It helps throughout the day. It keeps me energized,” said Anthony.
The pantry serves snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, and bottled water to hundreds of students every day. The principal plans to buy a refrigerator to store even more healthy food, like yogurt and cheese sticks.
At United Way we believe that every person in every community should have access to healthy, nutritious meals. We also know that feeding students at school is a proven strategy to help boost attendance and keep them focused.