A kindhearted teacher in New Mexico was caught helping his students in a way that goes beyond teaching reading and arithmetic. When Marvin Callahan, a first grade teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico saw the widespread hunger in his school, he decided to take action and begin a program to send some of his students in need home on the weekends with backpacks full of food.
It’s no wonder that Callahan sees problems in his school: New Mexico has the highest rate of childhood hunger in the country, with one out of three children going to bed with empty stomachs, according to USDA data. Three-quarters of teachers nationwide say that they have students who show up to school hungry, according to No Kid Hungry.
The generous program in Albuquerque has gotten widespread attention, and the premise is simple: Callahan and other teachers will send 37 students home on Friday afternoon with two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. Retired teachers in the community fill up the backpacks themselves with breakfast bars, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and sliced turkey. The program began two years ago out of Callahan’s pockets, but now the entire community donates food for the kids.
“It’s hard for me to go home some weekends when the kids are saying, ‘I don’t want to go home because I don’t have anything at home,’” he told the Huffington Post. “I just hope that when I get home and open my refrigerator and there’s food in there, that they have the same thing.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi