Valley of the Sun United Way

The Everyday Face of Hunger

Meet Grace

Grace is like many third graders in our community with hopes and dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She plays with her friends and works hard at school each day. But something is getting in the way of her ability to focus in class and on her future. As the school year ends, Grace’s classmates are enthusiastically sharing plans of vacation and pool parties – they can’t wait for the final day to arrive. But Grace isn’t excited. The thought of summer fills her with dread. Every school morning she comes to the cafeteria where her teacher greets her with a smile and breakfast. At lunch it’s the same – a warm smile and tray full of food. Grace carefully scans each meal, seeing what she can tuck in her backpack for dinner – a roll, an apple, maybe a little dessert. On Friday she only eats half of her meals and quietly tucks some away to help her through the long, hungry weekend. Sometimes she hides it all away so she can also share it with her younger brother. But summer is almost here and she can’t ask for enough rolls to get her through. What will she do? Where will she eat? Her nine year-old stomach starts to knot with worry. As a community we want all our children to succeed in school and nutrition plays a key role in their ability to focus and learn. Without this basic necessity, they are unable to fulfill their true potential. Far too often, Grace and many other local children worry about finding their next meal instead of how to solve math problems.

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