Teacher raises nearly $80,000 to feed Ferguson kids who can’t get meals at shuttered schools


Tyrell Mosley and his daughter, McKayla, 9, and son Demarre, 6, clean up debris along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Mo. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

A teacher in North Carolina has raised nearly $80,000 to feed students from low-income families in Ferguson, Mo., who would ordinarily be getting free lunches at public schools in the St. Louis suburb but can’t because the start of the 2014-15 school year has been delayed twice as a result of civil unrest.

The 11,000-student Ferguson-Florissant School District was supposed to start classes Aug. 14 but now is scheduled to open Aug. 25, assuming that the unrest that resulted from the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of a black teenager by a police officer has stopped. This year, the high-poverty district was planning to start a federal program that allows all students to receive free lunches, not only those whose family incomes qualify them for free and reduced-price lunches, according to this report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ferguson-Florissant is considered a high-poverty school district because many of its students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches — 68 percent of them last year, though it is likely that the real percentage is higher but some families never filled out the paperwork, the newspaper said.

Wishing to help the students in Ferguson, Julianna Mendelsohn, a fifth-grade teacher in Bahama, N.C., came up with the idea of starting a fund on the Internet to raise money so that the St. Louis Area Foodbank could feed students and their families, according to takepart.com. She started a fundraising campaign on Fundly.com that has raised nearly $80,000, which had been her goal.

On the fund-raising campaign page, Mendelsohn wrote: 

As the world watches the events unfolding in Ferguson, many people have thought “how can I help?”. As a public school teacher, my first thought is always about the children involved in any tragic situation like this. When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability. Many children in the US eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry.

ALL OF THIS MONEY WILL GO TO FEED KIDS IN FERGUSON. A dollar or a hundred dollars, it doesn’t matter. You will be helping to put food in the mouth of a child who needs it. Regardless of your opinion on the civil unrest in Ferguson, there is no need for innocent children to go hungry because of it.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · August 19, 2014

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