Johnson Magnet School battles childhood hunger one can at a time

AUGUSTA, Ga.– A Richmond County teacher is trying to get kids motivated to participate in A. R. Johnson’s annual food drive.

Unfortunately, hunger is a big problem here in Georgia. And in the CSRA, about one in four kids is considered food insecure– which means they may not know when they’ll have their next meal.

But as WJBF’s Anne Maxwell explains, teacher Susan Phillips wants to change that.

Susan Phillips is an English and Latin teacher at A.R. Johnson Magnet School.

Every year, kids at A.R. Johnson Magnet School participate in a food drive to help the Salvation Army. Phillips is in charge of it for the first time this year, and she wanted to go above and beyond.

“I wanted to do something a little bit differently to catch the kids’ imagination.”

She’s tying the kids’ donations with their “Spirit points” they earn for spirit week.

“SO that’s a motivation for our kids!”

She has also assigned different foods for different days: there’s Macroni Monday, Tuna Tuesday, Whatever Wednesday, Tomato Thursday and Fruity Friday.

“So to give the kids a theme to think about and easy for them to remember. And it’s been pretty successful.”

So far, they’ve collected 430 items. It’s food that’s desperately needed.

Food insecurity affects about one-third of kids in Georgia. And for children, the effects are particularly devastating. Not getting enough healthful food can lead to delayed development, chronic illness and even behavioral problems, like hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression.

“And they’re socially behind when they don’t get food as young children. They’re behaviorally and socially behind.*

In our community, hunger doesn’t always look how you would imagine. Nutritionists say people can be overweight but under-nourished. For many, it’s because they’re forced to make a trade-off between food that’s filling and cheap, and their health.

“We want to do this so that won’t be a problem, hopefully.”

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