Raleigh teacher Julianna Mendelsohn raised over $130,000 for hungry students in Ferguson
WORLD / North Carolina, U.S. – With public schools in Ferguson closed for safety reasons related to the current unrest, students from low-income families would have had to go hungry without the free school meals.
Raleigh teacher Julianna Mendelsohn didn’t think she could make a difference, but tried anyway. She has now raised over $130,000 from close to 4,000 donors to ensure the kids wouldn’t go hungry during this trying time.
Helping a high-poverty school district
“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,” she wrote.
Ferguson-Florissant was planning to start a federal program this year as part of the Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010. This would have allowed all students to receive free food in school, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Ferguson-Florissant is considered a high-poverty school district. “Ferguson-Florissant spends $70,000 to $80,000 a year on food for children who are at school and don’t have a lunch, so the program that will allow all kids to eat for free will save the district money. The district had about 68 percent of its students in the free or reduced-lunch category last year. In some cases, eligible students did not turn in required paperwork,” reports stltoday.com. This means the number of students who could have been eligible for free for low-priced school food could have been higher.
Fundraising campaign and social media
And so she started a fundraising page Fundly and tweeted about it. On the fundraising page, it reads:
“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.”
With only one day left, she has far exceeded her goal of $80,000. All funds raised will be handed over to St. Louis Area Foodbank which will handle the logistical arrangements for the meals. According to the foodbank’s website, it will manage the funds by providing “a sustainable, long-term hunger relief program for the children of the Ferguson community.”
The foodbank has five partner food pantries in and around Ferguson “who have been providing food to families in the community during this difficult time. These pantries serve the Ferguson community year-round, a hunger relief mission that the Foodbank will continue to support in any way we can. As we look to the future, the Foodbank will implement a specific long-term plan for feeding children in need in Ferguson and provide a full financial accounting on the use of the campaign funds donated,” it says.
Background of the Ferguson violence
Vox.com covered most of the basic details of what sparked the protests. It states “on August 9, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days since his death, Ferguson has been rocked by protests, some of which have turned violent. On Saturday, August 16, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew on Ferguson, closing the streets from midnight to 5am.”
Read more about it here.
For more information on the fundraising campaign, visit www.feedthestudents.org.