Food for Thought will mark the 10th anniversary of its assistance to anyone without lunch money in the Science Hill High School cafeteria in 2014. And with just a little extra support, the program could return to the Liberty Bell Middle School campus as well.
More than 21,000 meals after eighth-grader Audrey Cloyd approached the Johnson City Board of Education with her idea to launch a nonprofit feeding program for students on what was then the Science Hill 8-9 and 10-12 campuses, Food for Thought is still going strong.
Bolstered not only by individual contributors but by grants from Speedway Children’s Charities and the Nestlé Very Best In Youth Foundation, the program uses 100 percent of every penny it receives for meals for students who, for many different reasons, have no lunch and no money in their cafeteria account to buy one.
As a girl, Audrey, who is now a senior at East Tennessee State University, simply did not want to see her fellow students not eating. But according to her mother, Suzy Cloyd, who continues to serve as the program’s volunteer director, she never thought that 10 years later her idea to make it possible for everyone to eat would have provided more than 20,000 cafeteria meals.
The program, which has changed very little since its inception, has been recognized by the school board for its contribution. In 2007, it was the recipient of a national Point of Light award. It won Audrey consecutive finalist and runnerup finishes in the Nestlé’s Very Best in Youth competitions. With help from Tim Burchfiled’s Chick-fil-A on Peoples Street, it has expanded off campus to provide Chick-fil-A meal passes for students who are without meals when school is not in session.
While the realignment that moved ninth-grade classes to Science Hill and re-established a seventh- and eighth-grade middle school at Liberty Bell has made Food for Thought available exclusively at Science Hill, the same tenets that made programs a success from its outset remain in place today.
The key, Suzy Cloyd said, is that the program can be easily and discretely accessed by students for two free cafeteria meals in every nine-week session of school and it is available to all students regardless of their circumstances — be it a forgotten lunch tote, a depleted cafeteria account or a student in need of free or reduced-priced meals who is new to the school and not yet entered in the cafeteria’s computer. Suzy Cloyd also credits the Johnson City Schools Foundation, which oversees the program and accepts tax-deductible donations earmarked for Food for Thought under its nonprofit umbrella, Dr. Janie Snyder, the school system’s director of student services, and Karen McGahee, food services director at Science Hill, for the program’s longevity.
She said that with as little as $1,000 more in annual support, Food for Thought could easily be restored at Liberty Bell, where the younger grades were traditionally its most frequent users.
She encourages anyone who wishes to be involved in the program to add their support. Donations may be made online at the Johnson City School System’s My School Bucks webpage, at ffthought.webs.com, or by mail to Food for Thought, 2717 Cherokee Road, Johnson City, TN 37604. More information about the program can be found at the website or obtained by calling Suzy Cloyd at 926-4755.
Teens for Jeans, Aéropostale and Do Something’s annual used jeans drive for teens and children who are homeless, will kick off Jan. 13 and run through Feb. 16 at Aéropostale stores everywhere. Everyone can participate by bringing their used jeans to their nearest Aéropostale during the drive and exchanging them for a coupon good for 25 percent off their next pair.
Or, better still, teens across the U.S. and Canada can sign up now to take part in the annual Teens for Jeans competition for a $10,000 college scholarship and $4,000 cash prize for their high school awarded to the leader of the most successful in-school Teens for Jeans collection. To sign up or for more information about the competition. visit teensforjeans.com or text JEANS to 38383.
Jeans donated at the Aéropostale store Johnson City store will go to Good Samaritan Ministries to be passed along to local teens and children who are homeless.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.