“It has Been a Tremendous Blessing:” School Heroes Feed Kids During the Crisis and Beyond

Letisha Williams works on staff at Linwood Public Charter School in Shreveport, La. But as a little girl, she was a student there.

“It just feels like home,” she shared.” I take ownership because I came from this school.”

 This personal connection motivated Williams to go above and beyond for kids this past year.

Long hours, uncertainty and constant change didn’t stop her and the school community from showing up for the students during the pandemic.

They had to be flexible to ensure kids were safe — this meant strict protocols and having kids come to school to take classes at different times of the day.

“That took a toll on everyone,” she said. “But I know for myself, I was able and willing to endure the long days.”

The pandemic had a devastating impact on a community that already experienced high rates of poverty. Many parents who relied on employment from casinos lost their jobs, and thousands of kids were at risk of experiencing hunger.

But the school immediately took action. They delivered meals for families during remote learning and, when school reopened in the fall, they continued providing meals to eat at school and to take home.

Two women packing food
Two teachers posing for photo at food distribution center

“As far as I know, no one had issues with hunger,” Williams explained, praising the hard work of their food program during the pandemic. “This past school year there was really a push to try to make sure all of our kids received food.”

With the help of partners like Humana, No Kid Hungry sent an emergency grant to Linwood to support their efforts, allowing the school to purchase refrigerators and equipment to set up grab-n-go stations so kids could safely have their meals in their classroom.

“It has been a tremendous blessing,” shared Williams. “It helped support our cafeteria staff with having all the adequate supplies that they need to do their jobs. And it has indeed been a blessing to our parents and our students so they can receive those meals as if the pandemic never existed.”

“It’s so critical to have partners like Humana,” shared Rhonda Jackson, program director in No Kid Hungry Louisiana. “They support the work of schools like Linwood in our state and in communities in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.”

Williams is proud of her work and the safe haven they have been able to create for kids.

And because Linwood is home to kids from preschool to 8th grade, she has been able to see their growth. She remembers kids that she met when they were five years old who now are getting ready to go to high school. For the years they're at Linwood, Williams does everything she can to help each and every one become their best selves.

“What makes me hopeful is just the smiles on our kids' faces, regardless of what they've gone through the night before,” she said. “But they are here, and getting the very best education that will help prepare them to be contributing citizens.”

Even with things returning to normal for many families across the country, there are still millions of kids in need. As many as 1 in 6 kids could face hunger this year. Join us and Humana to support partners like Linwood and make sure all kids have the food they need in the long recovery ahead.