Community Matters

The link between breakfast and school performance is well documentedEven before the economic downturn of 2008, the face of poverty had changed, though most of America hadn't recognized it (The Rich and the Rest of Us | Tavis Smiley & Cornel West). The income inequality gap (already huge) is growing - homelessness and hunger are symptoms of poverty caused by many factors.

In Lexington, a working group of school and municipal staff (primarily) along with several community leaders, has been convening since late last fall to share information about the growing homelessness issue in our own community. 
  • Working Group conversations led to a convening of the Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association (LICA) who hosted a meeting with the community to discuss the issue and consider concrete next steps. More than 50 people came out from at least 10 Lexington faith-based congregations. Breakout sessions focused on addressing steps necessary to aid individuals and families across Town in realistic, concrete ways. Teams focused on:
    • food connection
    • community meals
    • social outings
  • Addressing the lack of public transportation, especially for families housed longer than expected in emergency hotel/motel shelters: the use of church vans and deeply discounted rentals with a private bus company, as well as means available through the Town's Human Services Department, are narrowing that gap.
  • The school department hired a social worker to assist school-age children of families in transition; initially hired half-time, it is now a full-time position. More thinking has gone into the possibility of piloting a summer program so students in transition won't experience academic regression over the summer. 
Working together, staff and faith- and community-based leaders have increased understanding and knowledge of hunger and homelessness on the ground right where we live. With the child at the center, schools, in partnership with families and the community-at-large, are making a substantial difference.