A school “lunch lady” with a huge heart

By Ed Nicholson

Tim Cipriano calls himself a "lunch lady."  That’s simplifying things a bit.  Actually, he directs one of the most progressive school lunch programs in the country, for New Haven (CT) Public Schools, which prepares more than 17,000 lunches and 11,000 breakfasts a day for schools across the district.  It’s a tremendous program, that focuses on quality, nutritious food, prepared from scratch, where possible.

Tim is a passionate, articulate and tireless advocate for hunger relief.  In his job, he sees directly the effects of hunger on children.  He knows the scope and the depth of the problem. 

In addition to effectively managing a daunting day job, Tim also has a leadership role in Taste of the Nation New Haven, and has volunteered his time to lobby state legislatures on behalf of child nutrition appropriation. 

We caught up with Tim last week, when we made the WeCanEndThis donation in New Haven (for which he was largely responsible). 

He’s an inspiring guy.  It’s a privilege to know him


What are you eating this weekend?



 By Ed Nicholson

Those who follow this blog know that we’ve been devoting Fridays to reminding people of the fact that there are millions of children across the country whose primary source of nutrition is the school lunch program.  For many of these kids the gap between lunch Friday and lunch Monday is a long 72 hours with no assurance of a meal.

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Owen, CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. in Fort Myers Florida, guest posted here about this sad fact.  Now, CCMI, has challenged their stakeholders to join them in discovering just what it might be like to live for a weekend with no food.  Beginning at noon today, those who take the NoFood4You Challenge won’t be eating until noon Monday. 

The campaign will raise awareness and funds for CCMI’s School Backpack Program.  Follow Sarah and CCMI’s Judy Chiappini as they document their experience via Twitter throughout the weekend.  Thanks to their efforts, there will be some kids in the Fort Meyers area who won’t be going hungry for that 72 hours.


The Face of Hunger

It’s Friday, when we devote this space to reminding all that the weekends can be tough for the millions of kids around the country who depend on school lunch programs for their nutrition.
Today’s guest post comes from Detroit.  Kristie Sawickis publishes the blog,This Side of Eternity, and also helps in distributing food to children to take home to their families for the weekends.



I live in a poverty stricken neighborhood in the Metro Detroit area.
And I’ve come to the realization that the ones affected the most by the
continued plague of poverty are the children.

I know that everyone is concerned over the economy, but lets face it, most of us
have never had to send our kids to bed hungry. We have never had to
tell our kids there is no dinner tonight. And we have never had to
send our kids to school hungry, knowing that the relief would come when
they could walk through the lunch line and receive their free lunch.

I am thankful for programs like the free and reduced lunch program.

But the truth is that it just is not enough.  What about the summer, or vacations when school is out?

Whose responsibility is it that these children not go through their entire
childhood with the constant pangs of hunger reminding them that they
have been overlooked by a nation that is full of wealth? Even in these
tough economic times there is still more than enough to go around.

I began doing a food distribution at the elementary school in my
neighborhood, where over 75% of the kids qualify for free lunch. That’s
a lot of kids who rely on the free lunches they get each day when they
come to school. Basically what I do is drive down to the food bank and
pick up 70-100 bags of groceries and then take them to the school and
pass them out on Friday after school. Each bag contains enough food for
one child to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday of the weekend.

When I first began the program I really didn’t fully understand the need.
But week after week I hear of more stories that break my heart.

Like the week we had the opportunity to pass out backpacks full of school
supplies and snack foods. Two little girls came and said they didn’t
want the backpacks full of stuff–they only wanted the grocery bags with
food in them. These girls valued the food they were getting each week
more than the snacks and supplies that were in the backpacks.

Just last week a teacher told me that one of her students was sharing with
her that there wasn’t any food at home and how excited she was that
Friday was coming when she would be able to get her food bag and have
food again.

These are only two examples among dozens.   The situation seems overwhelming.  And it is….. for one person.

But if we could all open our hearts to these children, we could really change the face of hunger.

So, I challenge you. When you are sitting down for dinner tonight, think of
the kids that will spend their evening trying to forget the nagging
reminder that there won’t be any more food to eat for three full days. 

You can really make a difference. There are so many ways to
help. I asked the question earlier, whose responsibility is it that
these children be given something so basic as food? And I would say it
is my responsibility. It is your responsibility. It is all of our

There is so much that you can do to help a child not live in a world completely dictated by hunger.

If you have a story about childhood hunger you’d like to share, comment here.


photo by Joe Schlabotnik–Creative Commons