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Report from the Field: Kristen Bell and No Kid Hungry Recognize School Heroes

Have you ever met people who can change how you think about the world?

A group of fourth graders lines up to enter the cafeteria and they can barely contain their excitement. Some of them are doing dances they learned on TikTok; others are exchanging stories with their friends. 

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As they walk in, they are welcomed by the warmest group of people you will ever meet. Cafeteria workers, who have already been working for hours, celebrate the kids with smiles and with loving words.

We live in difficult times, but every time I visit schools and speak to cafeteria workers and other school heroes, I return home with a new sense of hope and faith in humanity. My position at the No Kid Hungry campaign gives me the privilege to visit the communities we support to capture the magic of their stories.

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Azusa, Calif. part of LA county is a special place.

Even when the community experiences challenges -- like many families having to work two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet – school heroes are motivated to work even harder to take care of the kids. From cooking cultural meals from scratch to offering second chance breakfast, the hours are long, but school heroes know it’s a task of love.

Second chance breakfast is in its second year at Valleydale Elementary in Azusa. This is an opportunity for kids who missed breakfast before class to have breakfast after their first or second period. Bertha Carmona works in the cafeteria, and she knows how much it means for parents.

“I was one of those parents working an overnight shift,” she shared. “I used to come back home at 7am and barely had time to bring my kids to school. I know what parents are going through and this is huge.”

Carmona loves the kids in the schools where she works. She knows their struggles and their potential. She remembers a high school student who a few times came to the cafeteria drenched and without a rain jacket. She figured out a way to give him one. His gratitude is a reminder for Carmona to continue working hard for the kids. 

This fall, No Kid Hungry recognized school heroes in Azusa. People like Carmona, Evi Jimenez, Laura Davis, Linda Valdez, Edna Hicks and leaders like the principal, Horacio Trejo and the food service director, Stella Ndahura. The school received a $10,000 grant in recognition for their service awarded by our celebrity champion, Kristen Bell who visited the school and interacted with kids. 

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Every single one of them has the superpower to make a difference in kids’ lives. I saw in every interaction Principal Trejo had with school kids whether it was a quick rock-paper-scissors game with a kid in the hallway or a check in with an upset kid. I saw it in the high standards that Ndahura had for the meals they provide, her deep knowledge of food programs and the pride on her staff. And I saw it in the smiles of the kids enjoying their second chance breakfast.

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You also have a superpower. With your support and donations to No Kid Hungry, we have helped thousands of schools across the country expand their school meal programs and provided school heroes with the tools to make their work easier. Let’s use our superpower. Together, we can make No Kid Hungry a reality.

Ways You Can Help:

Donate: 1 dollar can help provide 10 meals for kids in need. Your support will help us fund meal programs all over the country and help us advocate for policies that will help kids get the meals they need.

Speak up for kids: 1 in 5 kids in the United States is affected by hunger. Tell your lawmaker to protect SNAP and other federal nutrition programs that feed kids.