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AFT grants to combat food insecurity among students in Jefferson Parish

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Tuesday, December 26, 2023   

The American Federation of Teachers recently gave out grants in urban, suburban, and rural communities across America to increase literacy and improve nutrition in dozens of schools.

In Louisiana, AFT's Powerful Partnerships Institute awarded a grant in Jefferson Parish that will fund a backpack program helping children in food-insecure families at four schools.

The 38 grants create partnerships with community organizations and volunteer parent groups to address a number of needs in different school districts.

While some programs are set up to help with academic work, there's also emotional support programs, along with services such as career development - and, as in Jefferson Parish, nutrition assistance.

The backpack meals are made possible by a partnership with the nonprofit Second Harvest. Jefferson Federation of Teachers President Sandra Hauer said the backpacks have shelf stable no-prep foods that will keep over a weekend.

"It's a lot of easy-open, nutritious, non-perishable food - things like cereal, applesauce, a Lunchable," said Hauer. "Things like that - that kids could serve themselves, feed themselves - and don't require any heating or any refrigeration."

She said the grant is enough to support 200 students, but she estimated the need in the district is at least twice that.

Jefferson Parish has the largest school district in the state, with more than 70 schools.

Last year an AFT grant facilitated a partnership with the nonprofit First Book to provide 3,000 books to kids. JFT members handed the books out at school open house events and a portion were given to school libraries.

Hauer said as one of the most diverse districts in the state, books were available in multiple languages.

"Our district is large, it's very diverse," said Hauer. "They have over 43 languages that are spoken in Jefferson Parish, and many of the books too that we passed out were in a different language in order to meet the literacy needs of all the students."




Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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