Bellies Full of Love

There are these amazing women at my school. They are strong and dedicated to their job. They don’t have the luxury of sitting at a desk, or of sipping their morning coffee as they work. These women sweat, pushing cartloads of coolers around our sizeable campus, struggling to get through doors and around corners. Bending, pushing, picking up and setting down, these women deliver coolers of breakfast to each and every classroom before the day begins, coming around again just twenty minutes later to retrieve the emptied coolers. It’s a thankless job that is a substantial blessing for our students, who due to a new initiative, receive free breakfast every morning at the start of their first period. Free breakfast for 2,700 plus students. Every day.

It’s incredible how food changes the atmosphere of a first period classroom. Gone are the days of hangry, tired students who act out or can’t concentrate on their work. After just ten minutes of eating and chatting, these young adults wipe up their mess, dispose of their trash, and deposit the empty coolers outside of our classroom door. They work together as a community, to care for those who are caring for them. And then they are ready to learn. It’s awesome.

I know of the hardships and trials that many of our students face. I read about their struggles in their writing. I listen to their traumas when they need someone to talk to. Despite this, I had no idea how many of our students come to school hungry, and I never considered how that might effect their day. Ironic, considering how quickly I spiral into a dizzy, irritable mess if I go more than three or four hours between meals. I was incredibly blind.

I think about my own little human, for whom I’m able to buy enough food to feed her voracious appetite, and I become emotional. My little human whose current breakfast of choice is two sunny side up eggs with a green, fruit smoothie on the side. My little human who happily consumes her food, plus any goldfish or Lara bars that she manages to sneak from the pantry, while I finish getting dressed. My little human who is able to arrive at school with a full belly. I could neither raise nor feed this little human without a village behind me, and it’s embarrassing to admit that it is only just occurring to me that schools are an integral part of the village that support our children. I love that there are people who worry and care enough about the children in their village to create a program that provides each child a free breakfast, before expecting them to be able to focus on learning.

The woman who usually deposits my class’ breakfast coolers is a breath of fresh air. Despite the laboriousness of her task, she greets me each morning with a smile and a wave. We get to chat sometimes, about motherhood, work, our kids, and the cleaning we need to do over the weekend. Just two mommas bonding for a few minutes before we each go about the rest of our day. A few weeks ago she complimented a cobalt blue skirt that I was wearing. We both loved the color. A few days ago, she beckoned me to my door, and as I opened it she handed me a pair of cobalt blue earrings. She said she had seen them and they reminded her of my skirt, so she got them for me.

I couldn’t have been more floored. A simple act of love and thoughtfulness. A momma taking care of another momma. A woman supporting another woman. A village.

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