The research is clear: hungry children experience many negative mental and behavioral outcomes. Food security however, strongly influences positive mental health outcomes in children and teens. When schools can ensure that students have access to the nutritious food they need to learn and thrive.
After meeting with Bluffton-area school social workers in 2018, Bluffton Self Help launched the School Snack Program to provide snacks for teachers to utilize when in need. According to Beaufort County’s school social workers, teachers were spending upwards of $500 annually on snacks for their classroom. While teachers rely on parents to rotate and provide snacks, when this need was unfulfilled, the teachers were underwriting the costs. We wanted to change that.
According to the Food Research & Action Center, “Studies show that food insecurity is correlated with unfavorable mental health and behavioral outcomes among children and teens. For example, food insecurity is associated with apathy, lack of motivation, and lower levels of engagement in the classroom.
Children struggling with food insecurity also are more likely to experience anxiety and irritability, and teens face a higher risk of developing depression, bipolar disorder, and suicidal tendencies.
Children who come from food-insecure households also are more likely to have impaired social skills, and difficulty forming interpersonal relationships, and are seven times more likely than their peers to be involved in physical altercations.”
To minimize these and other negative mental health outcomes associated with food insecurity, the BSH School Snack program ensures that all students in Bluffton are well equipped to learn.
The South Carolina Department of Education’s measure of poverty is the poverty index, which is the percentage of students who are transient, in foster care, homeless, or have been Medicaid-eligible or qualified for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) services within the last three years.
• 57% of students in Beaufort County Schools are in poverty.
• 9400+ students are enrolled in Bluffton area schools
BSH volunteers deliver designated snacks to all ten Bluffton school social workers, on a monthly basis. Snacks that can provide nutrition to 200-300 children a day. In 2022, Bluffton Self Help provided 23,339 individual snacks to Bluffton-area schools, that is $29,173 worth of snacks.
“Many of our teachers use their own money to purchase items for their classroom, and students, so the Teacher Supply Drive helps alleviate the amount of items the teachers need to purchase. It also gives each student the opportunity to have everything they need to fully participate in their school work. Most are aware that if a student is hungry, it is very difficult for them to focus on learning academically. What may seem like a simple granola bar or bag of pretzels for some can mean a lot to a student and how they get through the day. Many of our students take advantage of this fantastic program. Thank you so much to the Bluffton community for ensuring our students are ready to learn each and every day.”
– Laura Van Houten, LMSW | Lead Social Worker of Beaufort County School District Elementary Schools.
Help ensure all students are ready to learn by donating school snacks. Donations are accepted Lunes-Viernes 10am-4pm at The Market at Bluffton Self Help locate dat 39 Sheridan Park Circle Suite#10 Bluffton, SC 29910
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