Some Good News from Ferguson, Missouri

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Feed the Students Tensions in Ferguson, Missouri flared late last week after police released the name of the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The tensions escalated to protests and looting, which warranted Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to sign an order declaring a State of Emergency and ordering a curfew in the suburb home to the slain youth. Nixon said Saturday that the state would not allow a handful of looters to endanger the community and that there must be calm if justice is to be served.

Last Thursday was supposed to be the first day of school for students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, but late Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made to cancel school Thursday and Friday.A district official says, “In order to allow time for the situation to stabilize and all of our students and their families to resume normal routines, the first day of school is now Monday, August 18.

Though the prospect of a longer summer holiday may elate some school-goers, a large number of students in Ferguson rely on meals provided in school, and the delay in the start of classes translates to empty bellies. In response, North Carolina teacher Julianna Mendelsohn is making sure to prioritize the city’s most vulnerable residents through a crowdfunding campaign called “Feed the Students of Ferguson”.

Julianna Mendelsohn“When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability,” Mendelsohn wrote on the fundraising page. “Many children in the U.S. eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry.”

According to the Food Research and Action Center, roughly 21.5 million children receive free and reduced-price lunch at school across the U.S. Unfortunately, during the summer months, nearly 90 percent of them lose that access to free meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated. In Ferguson, where the poverty rate is about double Missouri’s average, according to the Washington Post, plenty of children will stay hungry while schools remain closed.

Mendelsohn uses a donation platform called Fundly, which allows users to start a campaign for free and takes full advantage of online and mobile platforms. This allows fundraisers to use the Fundly app on their mobile phones to share their campaigns via social media, find friends, track their donations and manage their campaign from anywhere. So far, Mendelsohn has managed to raise over $50,000, and left over funds will sent to the St. Louis Food bank to support year-long initiatives that serve the community.

“When the Fundly CEO calls you at 8 p.m. and gives you his own personal cell phone number, you know you’re working with great people,” she wrote on the fundraising page. “This has been a tremendous ride … I thank every one of you who helped in any way.”

To donate to Feed the Students of Ferguson, click here.

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Deon Rocha

Deon Rocha

Deon is a recent graduate working, researching and sharing information related to community development, medicine, healthcare and health promotion. He lives in London, Canada.

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