Teacher's viral Facebook post shines light on child hunger

One teacher proved with a seemingly boring photo that their job doesn't just involve lesson plans and grading tests.

Earlier this month, Katherine Gibson Howton, and Oregon teacher, shared it to Facebook along with a poignant caption:

"We are your children's teachers. We know that we may have more time with your child than you do," she began. "We don't want them to be hungry, and not just because a hungry child can't learn but because we care about them. Hungry feels scary."

The photo shows a cabinet Howton shares with a fellow teacher; it's filled with food. "Children come into our classroom everyday telling us they are hungry," she explained. "Many more never say a word because they are embarrassed and it is up to us to notice that they are distracted, tired, grumpy."

Howton says that skilled, compassionate teachers ask their students about food -- and perhaps go the extra mile to make them a meal.

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Back to school lunches

Lentil Tacos

Tacos are a crowd favorite because of the endless possibilities of fresh veggies and toppings that can be added - olives, tomatoes, avocado, greens, caramelized onions and peppers, etc. Tacos make it super easy to eat the rainbow in one sitting.

Photo Credit: Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

Cheesy Ranch Broccoli Chicken Burritos

This is the perfect easy lunch or dinner for the busy days. You can even freeze them and eat them later!

Photo Credit: The Cookie Rookie 

Chicken Avocado Pitas

These Chicken Avocado Pitas can be whipped up in a jiff, served hot or cold, and will satisfy even the pickiest crowd. I love the bright colors of the cherry tomatoes and fresh avocado. Made extra creamy with greek yogurt sauce, you don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying this so much. Healthy meets delicious!

Photo Credit: The Cookie Rookie

Chicken & Broccoli Lunch Bowl 

There are so many reasons to love this recipe. It takes 10 minutes to make, start to finish. It serves 4 and each serving has a serving of veggies and lean protein to help keep you fueled for your day.

Photo Credit: An Edible Mosaic

Greek Salad Bowls with Spiced Lamb Burgers

You can add a grain to the bowl if you like (brown rice or quinoa would be yummy). For a paleo version, omit the feta and yogurt-based dressing and use your favorite paleo salad dressing (or oil/vinegar combo) instead. 

Photo Credit: An Edible Mosaic

Mushroom Triple Cheese Grilled Cheese

There’s really nothing better for lunch than this crunchy and melty Mushroom Triple Cheese Grilled Cheese recipe! With such a quick assembly you’ll be digging in in no time!

Photo Credit: Savory Nothings 

Veggie Spring Rolls

All of these fruits and veggies are sure to give your child the energy boost they need to make it through the second half of their day at school.

Photo Credit: Beard & Bonnet

Watermelon, Berry, & Basil Salad

Those toasty almonds add the perfect contrast of texture to the marinated fruit and those ribbons of fresh shredded basil perfectly accent the subtle sweetness of the berries.

Photo Credit: Beard & Bonnet

Sushi Sandwiches

These ‘Sushi Sandwiches’ hold little bites of crispy cucumber and carrots that add nutrition and texture. They couldn’t be easier to make.

Photo Credit: Dinner Reinvented

Open Face Buffalo Chicken Subs with Ranch Slaw

Everyone knows a good sandwich starts with the bread, and this is particularly true when you decide to go the open-face route. You want something light and fluffy, but it needs to be hearty enough to stand-up to all the badass toppings.

Photo Credit: Domesticate Me 

Lemon-Dijon Chicken Salad with Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds

A serious departure from your standard mayonnaise-heavy chicken salad, this mustard-based version is bright, fresh and fabulously light.

Photo Credit: Domesticate Me 

Crunchy Green Cheese Melts

This recipe is tasty, crunchy, healthy and fast to pull together in the middle of a busy day.

Photo Credit: Eat Drink Garden 

Roasted Eggplant Couscous Salad

This Mediterranean flavored, Roasted Eggplant Couscous Salad is great for a quick and healthy lunch or works great as a side for any summer picnic or barbecue.

Photo Credit: Erren's KItchen 

Lean Green Portobello, Pesto & Artichoke Panini

The portabello acts as the meaty base, with a spread of homemade hemp seed basil pesto and topped with artichoke hearts, onions, and creamy avocado. It's got a ton of flavor and makes a great lunch, plus takes just a few to whip up.

Photo Credit: Fettle Vegan 

Froggy Sandwiches

This simple sandwich is all about building a froggy on top of what your little one already loves, be it peanut butter and jelly, hummus and veggies, or whatever lunch meat they might like.

Photo Credit: Fork and Beans

Dairy Free Mac N Cheese

Switch up the types of veggies you add to this Dairy Free Mac N Cheese recipe to introduce your little ones to new greens. Try peas, kale, or even spinach in place of broccoli for a nutrient-dense lunch option.

Photo Credit: Fork and Beans 


Making your meals fun doesn’t have to require a lot of work. Sometimes it’s not about cutting your entree into the shape of whatever you want to create but rather taking what it is and working with it from there.

Photo Credit: Fork and Beans 

Three Cheese Caprese Pizza

Not only is this pizza freaking bomb because it has super fresh tomatoes and that sweet balsamic glaze, but it’s got THREE kinds of cheese! Fresh Mozzarella, Asiago, and Parmesan… the more cheese the better!

Photo Credit: Garnish and Glaze 


The page Love What Matters reposted Howton's photos, where people shared their own stories of when teachers helped them in this way.

"I will never forget the kindness of my first grade teacher," one woman commented. "I didn't have the type of parents who made sure I had breakfast and i [sic] would sit in class with a rumbling stomach most days. One day it was particularly noticeable during a quiet time, and she took me into the hallway and gave me crackers from her purse so the other kids wouldn't see. I'll never forget that."

Another commenter said she would help out teachers with this issue. "When my kids were in elementary school I would every other month buy a bigger thing of snacks and water for the teachers to store," she said. "They already buy enough for the class room why not help with the 'I forgot my snack today' cabinet."

According to The Huffington Post, over 80 percent of students at Reynolds Learning Academy -- where Howton teaches -- qualify for free or reduced lunch. Twenty percent of students experience housing instability.

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