ALBUQUERQUE, NM — A teacher is helping students who don’t have food to eat on the weekends when they are home from school.
For 21 years, Marvin Callahan has taught in the Albuquerque public schools. During his tenure, he has seen many students come to school hungry, though he didn’t realize just how many students faced hunger, he told the Huffington Post.
New Mexico children are the most likely in the country to be hungry, with 1 in 3 children growing up without a steady supply of food, according to NBC. The majority of children at Callahan’s school, Comanche Elementary, qualify for federal free or reduced-priced lunch.
"I could not get the image out of my mind — these little kids going home to empty pantries, empty refrigerators, empty stomachs," Callahan told NBC. "It explained why some kids were having such a hard time concentrating in class and making progress. Could you on a diet of dry ramen noodles?"
So, with the help of school counselor Karin Medina, Callahan started a program that sends 37 first-graders home on Fridays with backpacks full of easy-to-prepare food.
"You have to think of them as human beings ... The loving, sweet, adorable first-graders in my classroom," he says. "I wish I could take them all home, but I can't. I just hope that when I get home and open my refrigerator and there's food in there, I hope that they have the same thing."
The program, which is not an official nonprofit and doesn’t have a name, receives funding from Comanche Elementary school faculty and support staff, community members, a Boy Scout troop, and retired teachers stuff the backpacks every Thursday.
"I know where the hearts are of the people who come to work at Comanche Elementary School. And their hearts are for the children," Callahan told NBC. "Some of these folks are young and raising families themselves. They've taken something from their own families so they could provide for these kids."