Sharif had a tumultuous childhood in Morocco before arriving at Roxbury Elementary School in Stamford in third grade. Despite his difficult early years, he became fluent in English and was doing well academically by age 12.
But beneath the surface, Sharif was internalizing anxieties and worrying more than most children his age. The school social workers observed that food seemed to be at the center of both his anxiety and sense of security.
It was no surprise, then, that Sharif was the first to return his permission form for the Stamford Public Schools’ Weekend Food program, supported by United Way. He double and triple-checked that he was “on the list” before the first distribution. On the big day, he stopped by the office to ask what time “it was happening!” Sharif was not unlike the dozens of other students enrolled in the program. The school social workers report that each Friday brings the “thrill of a lifetime” to the students who benefit from Weekend Food.
After several Fridays of taking home his very own bag of food and fresh fruit, something wonderful happened. Sharif became noticeably calmer. He stopped fretting about all kinds of things, from school to friends to his parents’ health. He also stopped begging for food. The weekend food was about so much more than food—it satisfied a deep psychological and emotional need in Sharif. Removing one major worry from a child’s life has changed his entire outlook.
Sharif’s story vividly illustrates why we call it food security. Having access to healthy food means:
- parents can sleep at night, knowing they can feed their children the next day
- children can focus in school
- senior citizens can have proper nutrition and feel appreciated for a lifetime of hard work
United Way food programs help people who are working hard or are retired get healthy food despite struggling to pay rent, make car payments, or buy life-saving prescription medications.
By working with the Stamford Public Schools, United Way and the Stamford Food Collaborative made weekend food distribution more efficient and were able to serve 40 additional children like Sharif.
Thanks to you, we are able to leverage community partners and resources for the greatest impact for hard-working families.