When a student is hungry, sick, tired, falling behind, or not ready to be in class, the school assumes extra responsibility and the staff finds ways to meet basic needs so every student can perform their best.
At Omaha Northwest High School, magnet facilitator Alyssa Gudenkauf, along with staff at the magnet school, recognized a growing and hidden need among its teenage population: food insecurity.
A year ago, they took action and opened The Northwest Food Pantry, to provide students and their families access to food. The grant-backed pantry coordinates efforts with the Food Bank of the Heartland and neighboring churches to provide meal essentials to anyone in the community. Their policy: no questions asked.
In its first year, Gudenkauf said the pantry has seen success simply because it provides discrete but necessary access to food, especially for students who need supplemental help at home, on the weekends, and on school breaks.
Another surprising result: it’s encouraged students to think outside of themselves. As the #BeKind movement continues in schools across the state, the presence of the pantry has increased thoughtfulness among high schoolers and helped them to become more understanding and aware of what might be going on in their peers’ lives.