Food for Thought, the meal service program started by Science Hill High School alum Audrey Cloyd in 2004, has provided more than 10,000 meals to students since its conception.
“It started when she was in high school,” said her mother, Suzy Cloyd, Food for Thought program director. “When she saw that some students weren’t eating, she went to the Board of Education and asked if she could raise money for students to use for lunch meals.”
The volunteer program got a 90-day trial, and today it continues to provide students with a meal in times of need or for any reason.
“There’s been a lot of years when there have been very generous donations, and there’s been other years when we just got by,” she said. “The newest development is that it used to be just in cafeterias, but there was a need beyond the lunchroom. Now students can go to their counselors and ask for a $5 lunch card in cases where they may be in some location other than the school.”
Food for Thought continues to follow its original goal and purpose into its eighth academic year, which began in August.
On Oct. 1, Food for Thought partnered with JE Davis Enterprises, doing business as McDonald’s, to broaden its program and go beyond the lunchroom by providing meal cards to students who may need a lunch meal during a school break, weekend or holiday.
Cloyd said she recognizes that lunch does not stop on weekends, holidays and break periods, which is why the program is extending its services beyond the lunchroom for students, as needed. The easy-to-use program will allow students to get meal cards from their guidance counselor twice during a nine-week period, much like the existing in-school program offered at the cafeterias on the 8-9, 10-12 and alternative school campuses.
All funds raised for the program are used for lunch meals at these campuses, and there are no strings attached.
“It is highly unlikely that hunger concerns will disappear in our lifetime,” she said. “Hungry students cannot learn and most teenagers will go without a meal before they will ask for assistance. This is why FFT has been so successful. Every dollar that FFT furnishes for a meal, is a dollar less needed to balance a school budget and keeps teachers from using personal funds to buy lunch meals.”
Food for Thought has received local, regional and national recognition.
Donations can be sent to 2717 Cherokee Road, Johnson City, TN 37604, or call 926-4755 for more information.