When New Mexico mom Josette Duran’s son, Dylan, asked for an extra lunch to take to school, she thought maybe her son was just hungry and wanted a little extra food. After all, kids grow, and as they get older and bigger, they need more calories. But Josette was stunned when Dylan explained the reason he wanted the extra food: he wanted to give it to another boy at his school, who ate alone and only had a fruit cup.
Little did Duran know that that act of generosity would snowball into a movement that ultimately led to dozens of food-insecure children at her son’s school having enough money to get healthy meals at lunch, as WPIX (New York) reports.
It all started last month, when Dylan told his mother that he wanted to help out another boy he saw eating alone in his school cafeteria. Duran knows what it’s like to be food-insecure. She and Dylan had once been homeless and she wanted to give a little something back. That day, she began providing Dylan with two lunches, one for himself and one for the other boy.
Weeks later, Duran was called into the principal’s office at her son’s school. There, she learned, the other boy’s mother had finally learned who had been feeding her son all that time. The two women met face-to-face for the first time and the other mother tried to give Duran some money to pay for all of those meals.
“She says, um, ‘I know this isn’t much, but I just got a job and I know you’ve been feeding my son.'”
In an emotional Facebook Live video, Duran explained that she wasn’t going to take any money from a single mother.
— CNN (@CNN) October 18, 2016
Things snowballed from there. When the volleyball team that Josette coaches learned about her generosity, they raised $400 for her. Josette wouldn’t accept that money either; instead, she took the money to the school cafeteria.
“We paid up all the past due accounts for all the kids that need lunch, right? So now no one in that school owes any lunch money to anybody, and everybody can eat.”
Josette Duran knows what it’s like to not know where her next meal is coming from. A few years ago, she and Dylan were themselves homeless for a time.
“This hits home to me because a few years ago, me and my son were homeless. I was living in my car, I was washing him in bathrooms, and we didn’t have food.”
Across the country, millions of Americans deal with what is politely called “food insecurity.” That is, not having safe and reliable access to nutritious food. The problem is particularly devastating to children, according to Feeding America.
On empty stomachs, kids don’t have the energy to focus, engage, learn and grow. Yet, this is the reality for 1 in 6 children in the U.S. who worry about when they’ll have their next meal.
For many food-insecure kids, subsidized school lunches are the only square meals the kids get each day, which means that those who don’t get enough to eat at school are all but guaranteed to not get enough at home. And for those who do qualify for subsidized school lunches, they still face food insecurity when school is not in session – such as after hours or on weekends.
Back in New Mexico, the unidentified kid who, until he met Dylan, was eating alone with nothing but a fruit cup, has not only gotten enough to eat, but now he’s made a new friend.
“I have friends, and I’m doing better in school, and you have a great son and he’s my best friend.”
[Featured Image by Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock]