For many Americans it’s been a harsh, disruptive winter, from the country’s Northern edges to the Deep South.
When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day’s nutritious meal as well.
This recently became apparent to school administrators in rural Iowa, where extreme cold delayed openings two days in a row at Laurens-Marathon Community School, where 59 percent of students who eat school lunch qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
On the first day, some students arrived on empty stomachs because parents thought breakfast would still be served that day.
“Two students were found in our lunchroom waiting to be fed,” says Meredith Allen, a teacher at the school. “Several co-workers had stockpiles of food,” but it wasn’t enough.
On the second day, after the standard text alert about the delay went out, a second alert followed. This one clarified that breakfast would not be served. During late-start mornings, the school nurse often sees quite a few kids with hunger-related stomachaches, says Allen.