The trauma of homelessness, severe poverty, and high mobility combine to wreak havoc on the academic progress of children and youth in school. According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Education (2012), more and more students continue to struggle with the burden of finding a stable place to live, and the number of homeless students in America has topped 1 million for the first time as a result of the prolonged economic recession. The largest and most important safety net for homeless children and youth is the public school system, which provides both basic services as well as the education that is necessary to avoid poverty as adults.Title I Homeless Project for the Albuquerque Public Schools, will be the guest presenter at the next bimonthly meeting of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition on Tuesday, February 21, at First Presbyterian Church (Martin Luther King and I-25) at Noon.
"With almost 4,000 homeless children in the Albuquerque Public Schools, we know that housing instability is a major challenge for our students," said Scott. "Hunger and food insecurity is another factor impacting learning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the Hunger Coalition on this important topic!"
The APS Title I Homeless Project, works under the McKinney-Vento Act to offer services and support to homeless students and families attending APS schools.
"Our mission is to reduce any obstacles or barriers that impede the educational process for homeless children and youth. This includes helping with school enrollment, transportation, access to basic resources (clothing, school supplies, toiletries, etc.), advocacy services, and educational programs," said Scott. "Throughout the history of our program, food has been a core component. New Mexico ranks 1st in child hunger (Feeding America, 2014) with a rate of 29.2% compared to 18.6% nationally. As we all know, children cannot learn if they are hungry."
The APS Title I Homeless Project provides the following services to address this issue:
- Emergency food bags to families in need
- Weekly snack packs to unaccompanied homeless youth
- Catered meals at our seven weekly tutoring programs (Tuesdays and Thursdays after school)
- Catered meals at our 11 weekly lunch programs (9 high schools and 2 mid schools in APS on a weekly basis)
- Farmers Market fruits and vegetables provided as snacks to students in our tutoring and lunch programs
- Referrals to local food banks
- Assistance with SNAP benefits through the APS Medicaid office