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Mayo Elementary – How One School is Meeting the Need Outside of the Classroom

Mayo Elementary – How One School is Meeting the Need Outside of the Classroom

Mayo Elementary in Compton has participated in the BackPack Program for over 19 years

Food is one of the most basic necessities in life, and yet, 1 in 4 children may not know where their next meal is coming from. Many children get to school each morning and are in class with empty, rumbling stomachs, often being teased by other children for the matter, and in most occasions, unable to pay attention in class or retain the lessons being taught.

Agusta A. Mayo Elementary in Compton has been a proud partner of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and a participant of the BackPack Program for more than 19 years. In a community where 23% of its residents are living in or under the poverty level, there is no doubt that the need for food assistance is great.

Assistance Beyond the Classroom

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that until a student’s physiological needs are met, it isn’t reasonable to expect academic excellence. In other words, children need food before they can navigate up the hierarchy to educational enrichment. It’s for that reason that the Food Bank’s BackPack Program has become a staple at Mayo Elementary.

The BackPack Program is designed to alleviate hunger for kids who rely on school meals during the week and don’t go hungry over the weekend. Distributed monthly on Thursdays or Fridays, the backpack contains sufficient items to alleviate hunger for children in need, and at the same time, provides healthy items that will be vital for a child’s development.

“Any time that we’re in a community meeting like we do our SSC or School Council meetings, or our LPAC meetings where we come together with parents and have discussions about what the school does, the BackPack Program is always mentioned as one of the assets and that it’s really helping the community,” said Mayo Elementary Principal Fleming Robertson. “When parents give that back, where we’re just having a general conversation about what the school does, we know it’s making an impact and that they’re excited about it being offered here.”

A Great Need in the Community

At every distribution, Claudia Soto and her group of volunteers are present and ready to distribute the boxes of food that one day helped them get by. As the Community Relations Specialist for Mayo Elementary, Soto understands the community’s needs, as she too participated in the BackPack Program when her children were younger.

“There is a big need in our community, there’s a lot of families that are low-income, and they are in need of different kinds of food, funds, in order to help them support their children to have a good nutritious meal over the weekend,” Soto said.

A Health-Conscious Benefit

Patricia Hernandez is a mother of four and just one of the thousands of recipients of the BackPack Program. The pandemic and the inflation in prices of everyday goods has hit Hernandez’s household hard, as she is unable to work in order to provide full-time care to her young daughter, a cancer survivor, who suffered complications during her treatment, and lost mobility and is now in a wheelchair.

Without a doubt, the Hernandez household’s budget is conservative and inflexible to the rising costs of living, including food, gas, rent, and utilities. And to put matters worse, Hernandez has to provide certain foods in order to keep up with her daughter’s required diet, items that are higher in price and hurt Hernandez’s budget.

But it’s thanks to programs like the BackPack Program that Hernandez is able to put her mind at ease, receiving healthy foods, not just for her daughter, but for her whole family.

“I really liked last month’s box because we received quinoa,” Hernandez said. “My daughter has to replace rice with quinoa, and the last time I went to the store, it was $17 for one bag, and in last month’s box, I received two bags.”

In a time of need, any kind of assistance is welcomed. Your contribution to the Food Bank helps support programs like the BackPack Program, and in turn, families in need. If you are in a position to do so, please consider donating to the Food Bank.

Join the fight against hunger!

The BackPack Program could not be possible without the support and generosity of the community. Without your support, many children may go hungry. If you are in a position to do so, consider donating to the Food Bank and supporting programs like the BackPack Program. Just $15 covers the cost of one backpack.

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