For some students, 68 hours can seem like an eternity.
Those 68 hours represent the approximate time between meals served by schools at lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday — 68 hours in which some children have little to nothing to eat at home.
That’s why the Monadnock Regional School District has launched Monadnock End 68 Hours of Hunger, a local offshoot of the Dover-based nonprofit organization that aims to address childhood food insecurity.
“We just really saw the need for kids to have access to food,” said Melissa Alexander, one of the program coordinators and an administrative assistant at Monadnock Regional Middle/High School. “We could see that kids weren’t getting stuff over the weekend and had heard about the overall End 68 project and thought it would really help us here.”
The Monadnock district isn’t the first in the region to sign on with End 68 Hours of Hunger. The ConVal Regional School District in Peterborough and the Hinsdale School District have launched the program as well, according to the End 68 Hours of Hunger website.
Since kicking off a few weeks ago, the Monadnock group has provided weekend food packages for 65 students in Swanzey schools — including Monadnock Regional Middle/High School, Cutler Elementary School and Mount Caesar Elementary School — and plans to expand to the district’s other member towns as the program becomes more established.
“We will when inventory is there and we know that it’s going to be a continuous inventory, and right now that is the main concern,” said Karin Willson, another program coordinator, who is also an administrative assistant at the middle/high school.
The food is being provided by a $10,000 donation from Fenton Family Dealerships, Alexander said, along with food donations from Hannaford and individual donors.
Each Friday, students in the program are sent home with a bag of nonperishable foods such as cereal, canned tuna, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal and soup. Alexander estimates the program will need about 100 volunteers to help coordinate donations, pack food bags and deliver food to the schools as its reach continues to grow.
Teachers and staff in the schools have been helping in the process to identify students who may be in need, Willson said, at which point their families are contacted to ask if they’d like to sign up for the program. Parents can also reach out to the school directly if they are in need.
“Guidance counselors helped me out as well, because they have a lot of conversations with these students and they can identify if there’s a need there,” Willson said.
Lily Blake, a senior at the high school, is working with Monadnock End 68 Hours of Hunger for her senior project, helping with outreach, packing food bags and making deliveries to the elementary schools. She said being part of the project has opened her eyes to the need in the community.
“I personally (didn’t) know anybody that has trouble with food, but now that the subject has come up, I’ve noticed more people that I know of personally that need food,” she said.
For more information about volunteering or donating nonperishable food items, email email@example.com or visit the Monadnock End 68 Hours of Hunger Facebook page.
The staff at Jonathan Daniels School in Keene has been named the honoree of the 2018 Lisa K. Henkel Award for Excellence in Inclusion. Presented by N.H. School Administrative Unit 29 and the Concord-based Parent Information Center, the award recognizes a classroom teacher or teaching team in Unit 29 that has demonstrated dedication to the inclusion of students with disabilities.
“The Jonathan Daniels Preschool Team has worked hard to create an early childhood program and environment that supports the needs of ALL students while accommodating for the unique needs of preschoolers with disabilities,” said Michelle Lewis, executive director of the Parent Information Center, in a news release. Jonathan Daniels School, formerly an elementary school, now houses the preschool program.
The award is named in memory of Lisa K. Henkel, an adaptive technology assistant at Keene State College who created learning materials to accommodate blind students in music, mathematics, science, foreign languages and other areas. The Jonathan Daniels staff will receive $2,000 in classroom supplies as part of the award.