WATCH: Solving Hidden Hunger in an Affluent Coastal Town
Food insecurity affects one in five households in Massachusetts, and it transcends zip codes. How one school in Marblehead is making a difference.
Marblehead is an idyllic seaside town 16 miles north of Boston. And, with its boutique store-lined main street, historic homes and harbor view restaurants, to the distant observer appears to be home to a wealthy community that yearns for little. But, food insecurity affects one in five households in Massachusetts, and it transcends zip codes, affecting every corner of the state — including Marblehead.
At Marblehead Community Charter Public School, a food pantry was founded in the wake of the pandemic to support both the school’s families and the broader community. The pantry, which has a separate entrance on the side of the school, is frequented by many, all of whom express overwhelming gratitude, and many of whom feel shame that they need to request assistance. An on-site garden also supports the school’s food programs and provides educational opportunities for MCCPS students to learn about where their food comes from.
Hot, scratch-made breakfasts and lunches are available to every student, every day. The meals are so healthful and delicious that the teachers and staff often opt to eat what’s on the menu. After this universal program launched at MCCPS, the number of students accessing breakfast nearly tripled, and nearly twice as many students participated in school lunch. Lines for lunch became so long that they had to create an additional lunch period to accommodate all of their students. The impact on MCCPS students has been profound — all students now have access to nutritious, homemade meals without the burden of stigma and they are better prepared to start the day physically and mentally.