During a community health course and clinical, nursing student Whitney Thomas and seven of her classmates conducted a community needs assessment at Faubion School, a K-8 public school just a block from Concordia University in northeast Portland. Their findings shocked them.
“Food security,” which means, in a nutshell, having access to a basic supply of food that meets dietary needs, emerged as one of Faubion students’ major concerns. Digging further, Whitney learned that Oregon and New Mexico have the hungriest kids in the country. It is estimated that nearly one in three Oregon children are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. .
“They’re kids,” says Whitney. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn. But when you come to school hungry and tired, you’re not prepared for successful learning. We are preparing to be nurses, and part of nursing is being a connector. We identify the needs, then connect people in need with people who have resources..
Feeding the hungry, one child at a time.
Seeing that food security was a major concern at Faubion, Whitney worked with Concordia’s Nursing Club to find and create resources. First up, a bake sale that raised over $200. Then, under the mentorship of Marilyn Mauch – founder of the Northeast backpack Lunch Program – a system was put in place that provided two weekend lunches to Faubion students who might otherwise go without..
“My hope is that the Concordia backpack Lunch Program will grow,” says Whitney, preparing to graduate in May, then begin her nursing career at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, Oregon. .
Broader community connections are already in the works, between Faubion’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), St. Michael’s Church, the Concordia Neighborhood Association, and local businesses. “No child should go hungry, and if there’s something we can do about it as nurses – and students – then we should,” says Whitney Thomas. And thanks to her making connections, we’re one step closer to that goal.
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