The Stratton Foundation works closely with schools across southern Vermont to fund programs that guarantee the equality for every child to eat meals at school. Many children living in economic hardship bear the burden of what their parents cannot afford. Telling a child that they can’t eat lunch because of his or her family’s unpaid bills, or because they don’t have the means to prepare a bag lunch contributes to a stigma of poverty in school cafeterias. Research suggests that eating free meals at school can impact a child’s well-being and education. The reality is that the cost of providing state-funded meals offering a variety of healthy choices is often not in a school’s budget.
A recent study by Hunger Free Vermont and UVM associate professor Bernice Garnett, more than 240 school staff across Vermont, revealed that universal meals contribute to greater access to food, more local food in cafeterias, less financial stress and fewer visible income disparities among students, resulting in a better overall social climate in schools.
The Stratton Foundation works closely with schools across southern Vermont to guarantee equality for every child to eat meals at school. In Vermont, 40 to 80 percent of the children in local schools live at or below the poverty level. At Newbrook School in Newfane, that number is 57 percent of a school population with 120 families. The Stratton Foundation awarded a grant in December 2018 to the School to help insure that every student has access to breakfast and lunch no matter the family income through Hunger Free Vermont’s Provision 2 Program, a step in the process of qualifying the school for Universal Lunches for every child.
The condition of a child’s shoes are another visible indication of a family’s financial status adding to the stigma of poverty.
For more information, visit strattonfoundation.org.