Advocacy

Food Shortage in Seattle Lunch Rooms
Beacon Hill PTA response letter
October 5th, 2019

Dear Superintendent Denise Juneau and Directors of the Seattle School Board,

As volunteers and parents of Beacon Hill International School’s PTA – we are writing to express our concern with the way Seattle Public Schools is addressing the school food shortage issue and demand IMMEDIATE ACTION.

Media:

KUOW – Food is still short in Seattle lunchrooms, three weeks after the start of School

King5 – Food workers give no-confidence vote in Seattle Public Schools chief

MyNorthwest – Food shortage at Seattle schools forces some kids to buy lunch elsewhere

 A change of leadership and technology is no excuse for district-wide food shortages and students going hungry during the school day.

BHIS is a Title 1 school facing incredible pressures from gentrification and displacement as many families – mainly low income, black and indigenous and families of color, limited English proficient and immigrant and refugee families – face economic challenges just trying to maintain the ability to live in Seattle. Over 50% of our students receive free or reduced cost lunch and just this year lost our free breakfast program through United Way that many families depended upon (We wonder if SPS’s new nutrition director is responsible for that policy change- it has been challenging to get information on why the program ended so suddenly).

Nearly daily since the start of the school year our lunchroom manager has been dealing with insufficient amounts of breakfasts and lunches. Some days there isn’t enough food for all of the kids to receive a lunch and some children leave the lunch room WITH NOTHING TO EAT. Our school staff tries to fill the gap with granola bars and crackers but it’s not enough.

It’s not enough, especially when we know that many students may not have access to other options or have the economic means for alternative nutritional options and are dependent on what they can get at school. We also know that many of the systemic barriers and disparate racial academic outcomes in performance and discipline can be linked to inadequate access to nutrition – this is a foundational problem that is harming our students right now. We are concerned this is harming students across the district, and that South Seattle students experience greater disparate impact – where students in North Seattle may have more economic means – this is not necessarily the case in South Seattle schools. THIS IS A RACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUITY ISSUE.

We need an immediate response to this issue. We have heard from the Nutritional Director via news reporting that changes are coming and to have patience – that the system will be up and running in November. We are demanding more urgency to address this issue immediately – Hunger does not have patience, this issue can not wait until November. We need you, Superintendent Juneau and Board Directors to address the issue immediately and directly. 

Immediate Changes Needed:
Immediately fix distribution issues – we cannot wait until November
Reinstate our free breakfast program or provide a new one
Lunch options that are nutritional, culturally significant and appropriate options – some of our students do not eat meat for religious reasons, etc. Immediate communication with us to let us know these changes are being made

Superintendent Juneau and Board Directors, are asking youto be proactive in addressing this issue. Please respond with a plan. We will be checking in next Monday to see how and when you will solve this problem.
Sincerely,
The Beacon Hill International School PTA

Contact the superintendent and school board:

Schoolboard@seattleschools.org
scott.pinkham@seattleschools.org
rick.burke@seattleschools.org
jill.geary@seattleschools.org
eden.mack@seattleschools.org
zachary.dewolf@seattleschools.org
leslie.harris@seattleschools.org
brandon.hersey@seattleschools.org
superintendent@seattleschools.org
nutritionservices@seattleschools.org

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