I hope you someday have the opportunity I recently had to hear an educator tell the world the very thing we have worked for so hard and for so long: that his school’s children may be poor, but they are no longer hungry.
Principal Osbaldo Jimenez from 52 Street Elementary School, whose breakfast program we’ve visited many times, was the impact speaker at our L.A. No Kid Hungry Dinner in October. In addition to bearing witness to how hungry kids can’t learn, he shared two observations from the podium.
First, he said, "I tried for four and a half years to replace a broken oven so we could feed more kids better food, and I couldn't do it. I failed, until No Kid Hungry came along and said they would pay for a new one.”
His second point was in reference to my description earlier that evening of our visit to the nearby El Monte City School District. “I never really even noticed, until tonight after listening to Mr. Shore, that none of our kids are hungry anymore," he shared. "They used to be and now they are not. We feed them breakfast, lunch and what we call a supper. And they are not hungry. Their attendance, health and test scores have all improved."
Principal Jimenez’s two points comprise the essence of our winning strategy: We do whatever it takes to cut through bureaucracy and knock down any barrier between a hungry child and a healthy meal. When we do, the result is no kid hungry.
Jim Brooks, the writer and director ("The Simpsons," "Terms of Endearment," "Broadcast News"), told me he was especially moved after hearing that access to school meals is at a historic high and childhood hunger is at a historic low. “Compared to almost everything else going on in the world, you are actually making measurable progress,” he said.
Principal Jimenez was speaking of course of only one school.
While we know many others have also made such impressive gains, we also know too many have not. Childhood hunger is a solvable problem, and — just like at 52nd Street Elementary School — we're solving it. But this work is a marathon, and it's concrete mile markers like these that will help us dig deep to push toward the finish line.